UK council expands food waste recycling pilot

A UK council is expanding its food waste recycling pilot to more homes this spring.

North East Lincolnshire Council started collecting food waste weekly on one of its bin rounds in April 2021. Households in the pilot area received a lockable outdoor bin and a small kitchen caddy to collect the waste, which is then sent to an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility in Hemswell, Lincolnshire, to generate energy.

The pilot area includes 4,680 homes in five wards and includes a mix of property types in urban, suburban and rural neighbourhoods. Now, the council is adding a further 900 households to the pilot in Sydney Sussex, Yarborough, Humberston, and Park wards.

Set out rates (the number of bins presented on a collection) for North East Lincolnshire’s pilot area are among the highest in the country at around 53%. On average, each household is recycling 3.26kg of food waste per week, which would otherwise have been put in their household waste bin.

Households in North East Lincolnshire recycled more than ever in 2021. In the first full year since households started using the new food waste bins, recycling rates rose by more than 4%.

“I’m grateful to everyone taking part in the food waste pilot for recycling as much as they can,” said Councillor Stewart Swinburn, portfolio holder for Environment and Transport. “I urge all those households who are now receiving their food waste bins to give it a go and see the difference it makes.

“Last year, we surveyed those taking part and found households to be overwhelmingly supportive of the scheme. Households gave us a lot of valuable feedstock about the pilot and this will help us plan how we might roll out the service across the borough in the coming years.”

The government has shared plans for all councils in England to collect food waste separately from about 2025. Currently, food waste makes up about a third of the average household waste bin and could be recycled to generate biogas and renewable energy.

Recently, Kevin Quigley, commercial director of UK food waste recycler Warrens Group, urged local authorities and the agricultural industry to ‘team-up’ to alleviate emerging pressures surrounding demand for fertiliser by recycling more food waste.

UK fertiliser prices are rising rapidly as a result of gas price increases. This is exacerbated by the fact Russia is the world’s biggest exporter of synthetic fertiliser, supplying more than a fifth of urea, a key fertiliser used in the UK. AD generates biofertiliser as a by-product in the resultant digestate, which is made up of nitrogen, phosphate and potash – high in nutrients and readily absorbed by crops.

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