/ Food & Drink

Do you have a food waste bin?

Food waste can cause just as much damage to the planet as plastic waste, but not everyone has, or can have, a food waste bin. Is yours going straight to landfill?

Keeping on with the latest Which? Magazine’s very sustainable theme, last week we published three food waste facts everyone needs to know.

See what’s new in July’s Which? Magazine

I didn’t realise that of the 10.2m tonnes of food wasted in the UK, 7.1m of that figure comes from households, and a concerning 5m tonnes of it is actually edible.

I’ve shared a little anecdote on some of our recycling stories lately, including reverse vending machines most recently, so you’ll have to forgive me for indulging another – but I had a food bin for a while, or at least, I thought I did.

For some months, my block of flats had a council-provided food waste bin in the corner down in the bin room. I took my own mini food waste bin with me when I moved, so had been filling that up with a compostable bag before taking it downstairs.

But the communal food bin wasn’t getting taken away. After a while, it became full and, horribly, full of mice (or maybe rats, I didn’t hang about long after opening the lid to decide which).

It turned out that the food bin had been delivered by the council by mistake, and it was now refusing to remove it. Unfortunately my local authority doesn’t provide a food waste collection.

I’m pleased to say it was eventually removed and its unexpected tenants moved on, but now my food waste is ending up in with the general rubbish, which is definitely not ideal.

How much food do you throw away?

I wasn’t surprised to see bread on the list of items we throw away the most. Collectively, we throw away 20m slices of it every day.

I’m well aware that I’m disposing of too much of it after failing to get through a loaf most weeks – it’s something I’m making an effort to do something about, including freezing it when I know I’m not going to use it.

I wonder if refill stations, such as the ones currently on trial at Waitrose, could be a solution to things like this. Although we know that this could come with a host of hygiene-related concerns from your comments.

Do you think you’re throwing away too much food? And does your council currently provide a food waste collection service? Do you have a food bin at home? I’d be interested to see if anyone’s in a similar situation to me.

CHERYL says:
5 July 2019

Yes we have a food waste collection service – Merthyr tydfil Borough Council and very good,it is collected once a week. Normally the only food waste I have is veg peelings, egg shells. I make use of state bread by making bread puddings or queen of puds, or even a savoury bread pudding made with cheese and served with baked beans and bangers lovely. When my kids were living at home they thought this was great.

shirley says:
6 July 2019

I have chickens and three compost bins, ALL my food waste either goes to the chickens or in the compost bins. I don’t throw any food away. I also make lovely bread pudding and toasted toppings for fish pie.

Allie says:
8 July 2019

Can you share the recipe for the savoury bread pudding? That sounds like an excellent way of using up stale bread. My family don’t have a sweet tooth amongst us, so I would be really interested in trying out a savoury version!

Iain says:
6 July 2019

Edinburgh Council provide a food waste bin and we do use it but most of our food waste (veg peelings etc) is composted at home. We only really use it for meat bones or occasional cooked food waste.

Ian says:
6 July 2019

For years I’ve made all my bread in a bread maker, and contrary to popular advice, always keep it snugly wrapped in a freezer bag in the top of the fridge. It all gets eaten as daily breakfast bread or toast, and I’ve never needed to throw any away.

David says:
7 July 2019

Why don`t people freeze their bread when they buy it.Take out what you need on the day it defrosts very quickly = no waste.

Marion Newell says:
8 July 2019

We have a food waste service, but the only food I ever put into the bin was chicken bones. We compost all fruit and veg peelings, and scraps of meat went to the dogs. We’ve now turned vegetarian (sorry dogs!) so don’t use the food waste bin at all.

Margaret says:
8 July 2019

In addition to freezing bread which I do, (I cut up a large loaf and defrost as needed), if you have sliced bread you can also toast slices from frozen. I rarely throw away any food and we do have a food waste collection. I lived in a flat for a year which in theory the Council did not provide food waste collection service for, however I used to leave the bin on the pavement on collection day and it was always emptied, if your block of flats is in a street that also has houses the chances are that the bin men will empty your bin.

I have had a food waste bin in the kitchen every since Edinburgh Council introduced on-street food waste wheelie bins in tenement areas. We don’t have a collection problem in my street, I have never seen the food waste bins full to the brim. This could be in part thanks to an efficient collecting service but also because not everyone in the street recycles food waste.

Dick Symonds says:
8 July 2019

Yes, we have a food waste bin, about that size, but it collects for the compost (Hotbin). Our council one is used for bones only (and we should really burn these and spread the ash.)

For some companies set up to process food waste into biogas and electricity there are big subsidies. However, there is an apparent shortage of food waste so, it appears, to keep the generators turning and the lucrative subsidies coming in food crops like maize and rye are being used – some reports say one third of the “fuel”. This hardly seems “green”.

Everything is much too open to interpretation and exploitation.

I read somewhere that the compostable magazine wrappers are made from starch from waste potatoes in Eastern Europe. Where does the starch come from when demand exceeds supply. Grow potatoes for packaging instead of food?

Tony Budd says:
15 July 2019

We don’t throw away any edible food, only stalks, skins, bones, etc. Our council (Basildon) provide compostable liners for the small caddies they supply, and they collect a food-and garden-waste wheelie-bin every week. As for bread, we keep wrapped loaves in the freezer and only take out a couple of slices at a time, as needed. It stays completely fresh for more than a week if necessary, and the slices only take 5 or 10 minutes to “defrost”.

BrianL says:
27 July 2019

My council (Huntingdonshire D C) takes all food waste, cooked or uncooked, in the garden waste bin. Simple. Their recyclables policy is good too. Almost all plastic, glass & metal is accepted in the blue bin except, of course, polystyrene foam packaging and black plastic. Their website has a searchable alphabetic list of items that helps me to know which bin to use for unusual items.