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A third of Irish businesses surveyed don’t have a food waste bin

21 Oct 2019

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A new survey from RED C Research* has found that despite legislation for the last ten years requiring businesses to have and use a food waste bin, 33% do not have one.

The research highlights that among those who don’t have a food waste bin, the main reasons are that their waste collector did not provide it to them (30%), they have no space for the extra bin (14%) and 10% did not know about food waste bins. Cost of collection being expensive was lower down the list of reasons for not having a food waste bin, with only 6% of the businesses surveyed mentioning it.

The main reason why 66% of businesses reported using a food waste bin were because it is the law (37%), it’s environmentally friendly (31%) and it leaves other waste cleaner for recycling (24%).

Many businesses report that they are using the weight data provided by waste collectors to examine if they are producing too much food waste (67%) and have systems in place to reduce food waste (83%).

According to the businesses surveyed, infographics of what goes into different waste bins (98%), food waste reduction toolkit (88%), online videos on correct use of food waste bins/segregation of waste (77%) would be useful to help them recycle more food waste.

Percy Foster CEO of Cré said, “The findings show that there still is a lot more work to do in the commercial sector to recycle food waste. The Government will be consulting on the review of waste policy in Ireland and these findings will contribute to this review.”

Speaking on behalf of the three Regional Waste Offices, Joanne Rourke, Resource Efficiency Officer with the Eastern-Midlands Waste Regional Office commented, “While it is encouraging that two thirds of businesses are obeying the law and segregating food waste and indeed that many of these are doing so for environmental reasons, it is imperative that the remaining one third of businesses who are not currently using their brown bin begin doing so.”

“The Regional Waste Offices and the other stakeholders are currently developing resources to support businesses in addressing the deficits and difficulties they may be encountering in segregating their waste. Sending organic waste, such as food, to landfill has been illegal in the commercial sector since 2009 and food disposed of this way actually contributes to climate change through the gases it releases while breaking down. By properly segregating organic waste, businesses can play an important part in reducing waste to landfill and mitigating climate change.”

Odile Le Bolloch of the EPA’s Food Waste Prevention Team said; “It takes a lot of resources to put food on our tables and when food is wasted, the resources used to produce that food are wasted too. This impacts climate change, our local environment and business costs. Recent EPA-funded research[1] found that the food services sector generates over 250,000 tonnes of food waste each year with a very considerable cost in terms of resource-use and business overheads – estimated at over €300M for the hospitality sector alone. To meet this environmental and financial challenge, food businesses need to measure the food being discarded, and then take action to reduce avoidable wastage.”

“Food businesses can show their commitment to reducing food waste by signing up to Ireland’s Food Waste Charter, a national initiative led by the EPA targeting food waste in the business sector. For businesses that want to reduce their food waste or need help to get started, support is available to businesses who sign the charter, including a food waste reduction toolkit.