AD shortfall hampers hospitality efforts on food waste

A lack of anaerobic digestion (AD) capacity in England and Wales is hindering efforts in the hospitality sector to cut down on food waste, according to latest research.

Findings from the Hospitality Carbon Reduction Forum show that over half the food waste from the forum’s 12,000 restaurants and pubs is currently going to landfill due to limited AD treatment options and inconsistent waste contractor coverage.

This is even more concerning considering that the Forum has commissioned Carbon Statement, a carbon management specialist, to increase the energy production from food waste to meet recycling targets agreed with WRAP.

Industry talks are now taking place on behalf of food firms such as Nando’s and Whitbread Group to evaluate the most cost-effective range of commercial options for dealing with this waste stream.

These include building a dedicated AD facility for forum members as well as backhauling food waste direct to an existing AD plant.

Waste contractor set-ups are also being examined to establish whether it is better to channel all members’ food waste collections through one service provider to a network of AD facilities.

According to Carbon Statement’s Peter Charlesworth, the opportunities for collaboration to improve collection efficiencies and benefit from economies of scale are huge.

“These benefits include removing landfill charges, reducing backhauling and transportation costs and associated carbon emissions while earning money from generating energy,” he said.

Charlesworth added that his organisation had mapped all members’ sites across the UK against existing and planned AD capacity to optimise the waste collection process and to consider the siting of new AD plants.

“There is little co-ordination between the supply of food waste, collection and the positioning of sites,” he maintained.

The move has been welcomed by Whitbread Group. Its head of energy & environment Chris George said: “We already recycle restaurant food waste to support our zero waste to landfill targets, so the introduction of back hauling initiatives and opportunities are interesting to explore alongside the benefits and best practice of industry collaboration.”

Maxine Perella

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