Woking Council targets schools for food waste drive

Woking Borough Council has extended its dedicated food waste service for flats to the majority of its schools in a bid to increase overall recycling rates.

The collection service was rolled out to 28 of the borough’s 41 schools in June, almost doubling the tonnage collected.

Woking Borough Council, which shares a dedicated food waste vehicle with neighbouring Guildford Borough Council, collects food waste from 6,500 flats three days each week and extended the service to schools two months ago after a long consultation period.

“Prior to introducing schools, the average weight collected by this vehicle in Woking for three days was 3.83 tonnes per week, which was measured over four weeks commencing 28 May to 18 June,” Woking’s contracts & project support manager Mark Tabner told edie.

“Following the addition of the schools, this average weight has increased by 1.83 tonnes per week from 3.83 tonnes to 5.66 tonnes; a 48% increase. Over 38 school weeks, this could amount to some 70 tonnes of food waste per year.”

The council’s service provider, Biffa, empties the 140-litre wheeled bins provided each week and the operatives fit a replacement 140-litre compostable liner to keep the bins clean for the next collection.

While a minority of schools declined to participate in the service, Tabner added: “We are now working on the remaining schools and are hopeful that we can deliver that for part of the next school year in September.”

Woking had originally planned to bolt the schools on to its flats food waste collection scheme last year, but Defra’s delay in publishing its review of the Controlled Waste Regulations (CWR) until March this year meant the roll out was postponed.

Defra’s CWR review could see disposal costs applied in the future, but Woking made schools aware of this before they signed up.

“Ultimately, schools are continuing to pay landfill tax because they are producing food waste and they are shipping it off as part of their existing residual waste contracts,” said Tabner.

“I am hopeful that our service, even if there is a disposal cost, would be more competitive than their contractual cost. We don’t charge them for a collection.”

The September LAWR issue will include an in-depth feature on Woking’s food waste service in flats and schools.

Nick Warburton

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