Food and drink manufacturers prevent half a million tonnes of food waste

Posted by Isobel Drake on 21st July 2008

Food and drink manufacturers prevented over half a million tonnes of food waste being created in 2006 by sending food by-products for uses such as animal feed, according to the results of a survey published today by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). Of the waste that did arise at the sites surveyed, 82% was recycled or recovered.

The survey found that of the 835,000 tonnes of food and packaging waste produced at 236 production sites of FDF members in 2006, 686,000 tonnes were recycled or recovered in some way. Overall, only 138,000 tonnes was sent directly to landfill.

The survey results will help inform FDF’s work with the Government’s Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to continue improving food and packaging waste prevention. The results should also serve as encouragement to the waste industry to invest in areas of the country where waste is highest and demand for new anaerobic digesters and composting capacity is likely to be strongest.

Overall it will help FDF to fulfil its aspiration under its Five-fold Environmental Ambition published last October to send zero food and packaging waste to landfill from 2015. This is contributing to the Government’s goals set out in the 2007 Waste Strategy and the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit’s report ‘Food Matters: Towards a Strategy for the 21st Century’ published earlier this month.

“This is very useful information from FDF. It will help the waste industry and local planners to understand where it’s worthwhile to provide facilities like anaerobic digestion, which is the key technology for material such as food waste,” advised Phil Woolas MP, UK Environment Minister. “I chaired a meeting only this week with around fifty senior industry and NGO executives who have pledged to work with Government on ways to increase the use of anaerobic digestion. Solid facts and figures like these will be a vital way of taking that aim forward.”

Callton Young, FDF Director of Sustainability and Competitiveness, claims the findings solidify the FDF’s claim that their members are doing their bit for the environment. “The results of this survey demonstrate the level of ongoing commitment by FDF members to making a significant contribution to improving the environment, by targeting areas where they can make the biggest difference,” he said. “Our members’ initiatives are preventing significant amounts of waste at their sites and it is fantastic that the vast majority of waste that does arise is already treated in an environmentally friendly way. We hope that the survey results will send a message to the waste industry to invest more in anaerobic digestion and composting capacity in line with FDF’s ambition to send zero food and packaging waste to landfill from 2015.”