We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies from this website.
what are cookies?

How to turn food waste into wealth

Operators need to follow strict rules when disposing of their food waste, but is there a way of cutting the cost as well as cutting down on waste? Clare Nicholls reports.

Food waste is probably the last thing any hospitality operator wants to talk about. It doesn’t have the élan of menu creation or the panache of designing a venue, but is nevertheless vital to any professional kitchen. No brigade would want to work in a waste-strewn space with blocked drains, let alone deal with the reputational damage from not taking environmental responsibilities seriously.

Managing waste is becoming ever more key, considering the upcoming changes following the introduction of the Environmental Bill in England, as well as the enforcement of new Welsh food waste laws in April. Sending any food waste to the sewer is now banned and sites will have to segregate their organic waste for kerb-side collection, which will then be processed by an offsite anaerobic digestion (AD) facility.

But with hard-pressed operators now having to bear the cost for waste collection, there are options available for meeting legislative requirements while reducing waste volume.

Shrewsbury Hospital was processing 150kg of waste per one-hour service via two on-site macerators, but after installing Ecofast’s WasteStation dewaterer, the processing time shortened by 50 minutes per service and the waste volume was cut by 70%. In terms of operating costs, the site reduced its electricity usage by over 20kW/h per day.

The hospital’s catering manager Ian Stuart says: “We are really impressed by the Ecofast system and service, it works well for our operation.”

Ecofast director Steve Witt feels other hospitality providers could benefit by following suit: “The reduction of collected food waste can be offset by either the capital expenditure of purchasing a machine or the leasing of a waste management solution. In some cases with Ecofast customers, we have found the savings are self-funding.”

Furthermore, to overcome the issue of potentially making huge amounts of existing equipment redundant, these assets can be retrofitted with Ecofast’s mini dewaterer.

One of the biggest variables impacting a site’s bottom line is the labour needed to collect, handle, process and remove food waste from the premises, says David Bentley, specification manager of Meiko’s waste solutions arm Meiko Green. He believes food waste recycling solutions should last a decade or more, so the labour and any extras needed must be calculated and costed to determine which product offers best lifetime value.

Bentley contends that the solution which best reduces handling and the labour required is automated onsite food waste processing for intermediate storage in sealed tanks before collection for conversion to biogas by AD.

“Onsite processing eliminates any secondary handling because no further labour is needed once the waste is disposed of into the receiving hopper,” he says. “It provides ideal feedstock for AD plants while cutting the labour of emptying bins, transporting waste outside and cleaning the bins and bin areas inside and out. Staff movement is reduced, fewer trucks need to be on the road and the cost of bin liners is cut, which adds up to thousands of pounds over a decade for large waste producers.”