Food waste contributes to a tenth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. To tackle this, as part of the Welsh Government’s Business, Public and Third Sector Recycling Regulation and DEFRAs Environmental Act, new laws around food waste are expected to come into force in Spring 2024. It is anticipated that this new legislation will mandate that all businesses generating 5kg of food waste will need to separate and recycle their waste.

However, even though the legislation is set to come into force within the next year, our recent research found that 99% of businesses in the UK either don’t know about the legislation or if they do, have little or no understanding of it.
All is not lost, though. Almost two thirds (62%) of those surveyed did say they are working to gain an understanding of the legislation and over half (58%) are concerned about the carbon emissions that sending food waste to landfill produces.

To identify the blockers and offer some solutions, we held a roundtable with leaders in sustainability from a variety of sectors including hospitality, food retail and care to delve into what the new regulations are and what businesses need from both Welsh and English governments to ensure an effective roll-out. It also uncovered some of the challenges and opportunities businesses are facing when it comes to reducing food waste and the impact this can have on reducing carbon emissions.

In this piece, we’ve collated some of the key insights from our expert speakers.

The role of food waste recycling in achieving net zero

Firstly, it was important to start with why the Welsh and English governments are putting laws in place to ensure businesses are recycling food. Put simply, the ultimate purpose of recycling food waste is to minimise the amount of waste that goes to landfill. This is not only poor practice when considering the levels of food poverty across the UK and elsewhere, but on top of this, when waste is sent to landfill it breaks down and releases greenhouse gases, such as methane, into the environment which contributes to climate change.

“By taking food waste to an anaerobic digestion plant rather than to landfill, there’s a huge carbon saving to be made. For every tonne of food waste we give to anaerobic digestion you’re creating less than ten kilogrammes of CO2 equivalent. With that tonne of food waste that goes to landfill, you’re creating 650 kilos. That means it’s 65 times worse to take food waste to landfill. So, it’s almost an easy win if you put food waste recycling into the net zero strategy” explained, Mark Sommers, Managing Director at Sommers Waste Solutions.

The challenges and concerns faced by businesses

Naturally, with any change in law, there are teething problems as processes and procedures have to be adapted.

The three main challenges and concerns identified during the roundtable were:

  • Reporting and streamlining processes
  • Getting people to think differently about their waste
  • Whose responsibility will it be to take care of the waste?

Sommers Waste Solutions can assist every step of the way…

It is our mission and along with our suppliers, to continue advising both businesses and UK governments on how they can make the incoming laws a success and provide businesses with the information they need to successfully adopt food waste recycling.

If you’re based in England or Wales and would like support on how to prepare and get ahead of the curve for the incoming legislation, please contact us