GPT Waste is serving up a solution to London’s food waste issue.
According to the Feeding Britain report, 4.3 million tonnes of surplus food is being thrown away in Britain every year.
Approximately 18 million tonnes of food in the UK will end up in landfill annually, with the value being close to £23bn. The total value is rising rapidly due to soaring prices in fuel, which in return is causing many people, groups and families on low incomes to be unable to afford ‘healthy food’. This “food poverty” does not only cause massive environmental damage but also contributes to malnutrition and obesity levels.
A third of the food those living London buy, ends up in the bin. Every day in the capital we throw away:
- 176,000 bananas. Put end to end that stretches 22 miles, the length of the jubilee line.
- 560,000 potatoes. That would fill St Paul’s Cathedral twice.
- 750,000 slices of bread. Stacked up, that’s over 30 times the height of the Gherkin.
- 1,450,000 grapes. Enough to fill the House of Commons twice.
- 400,000 untouched apples. Enough for 28,571 litres of apple juice
- 73,000 whole eggs. Enough to make an omelette for everybody in Romford.
Liz Goodwin of WRAP recently said that:
“An area the size of Wales would be needed to grow all of the food we throw away from our homes each year in the UK.”
In the past few years a lot has been done in order to try and reduce this waste, this includes restaurants offering a choice of portion sizes and even supermarkets cutting down on ‘buy one get one free’ offers. However, if you look to the street of London in the evening you will realise that this big food waste problem still has a long way to go.
Food waste is a massive environmental problem, costing the UK billions of pounds a year; there is a political consensus that reducing the amount of landfilled bio-waste is a key policy priority. Boris Johnson now recognises that processing food waste will play a very important role in boosting the capitals recycling and composting rates.
There are other pressing reasons to ensure that the capitals sends less food waste to landfill, it has become an urgent priority due to the Greater London area containing very little landfill capacity; and sites outside its boundaries accepting its municipal waste are expected to be full by 2025.
According to the Bag it or bin it? Managing London’s domestic food waste report, set up by the London Assembly; London has greatly reduced the amount of domestic waste it sends to landfill, but food waste still accounts for around 20 per cent of its household waste.
The capital, which has the highest concentration of food businesses in the country, produces an estimated 32m–44m litres of used cooking oil every year, much of which is poured down drains.
In a recent article by the Guardian, it reported on the lump of congealed fat and household waste which was 40 metres long and so heavy it broke a Chelsea sewer, costing Thames Water £400,000
Stephen Hunt, a repair and maintenance supervisor at Thames Water, who is overseeing the repairs, said its size was staggering.
“The original sewer has been so badly abused by fat being chucked down the plughole we’ve had to opt for the time-consuming and disruptive option of replacing many metres of pipe.”
It is know that London does not stand out nationally for its success in recycling — while recycling rates vary widely across the capital, there is particularly low participation in inner London.
More London boroughs are collecting food and green waste than in the past but the costs are not only related to goods which are binned but also goods which are being disposed of down a drain.
The Bag it or bin it? Managing London’s domestic food waste report says:
London urgently needs to introduce or extend food waste recycling in its high-density housing stock. The local authorities have tightening budgets, and are often guided less by environmental concerns than they are by cost when choosing different recycling and processing methods.
In general, separate food waste collections are likely to make waste management more effective overall, as food waste is one of the few waste streams that residents can directly control. Although more expensive, providing a separate collection for food waste can go some way towards improving an authority’s overall recycling performance.
GPT Waste is the leading UK independent provider of waste management solutions and sustainable waste services, they were chosen as a waste partner to work with a number of restaurants and hospitals within the capital to identify and implement the most sustainable and cost-effective waste solution.
- Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Patient Dining Services – run by Sodexo- GPT Waste has implemented 3 x W20, food waste digesters into Charring Cross, St Marys, and Hammersmith hospitals. When all units are used at full capacity, it will divert 189 tonnes of food waste from landfill. See healthcare case studies here.
- Benares Restaurant – GPT Waste are now providing food waste collection services that sends approximately 35.1 tonnes to an anaerobic biogas plant
- Corbin & King Restaurant Group in London – GPT has implemented a combination of 1 x W20 system and food waste collections for this group. The Delaunay Restaurant has a food waste collection service that takes 54.6 tonnes per annum for anaerobic recycling. The Beaumont Hotel has a W20 food digester, that is approximately digesting up 63 Tonnes of food waste per annum.
- Sodexo City at Islington College – Made up of 4 sites, GPT have implemented a food waste collection service that diverts (based in industrial average) 20.8 tonnes of food waste for anaerobic recycling.
The costs of landfilling continue to rise however the landfill tax raised is not returned to London boroughs. At the same time, for boroughs that send residual waste for incineration with energy recovery, the cost issue is not landfill tax but gate fees.
The devolution of landfill tax to London would allow many authorities to invest more in food waste recycling and other sustainable waste management practices.
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