LANDFILL TAX is rising from £56 to £64 per tonne on 1 April 2012.
Given that foodservice businesses are thought to be landfilling 1.5 million tonnes a year, this could cost the sector up to £12m extra in landfill costs.
The rise in charges is part of the Governments landfill tax escalator which has seen landfill tax rise in recent years in a bid to divert more waste from landfill.
Landfill is the most expensive and environmentally harmful destination for UK waste, languishing at the bottom of the so-called waste hierarchy.
The cost of landfill will continue to go only one way up. Businesses have therefore been advised to focus even harder on cutting waste, especially food waste.
According to a study by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) last year, the amount of waste ending up in landfill remains an issue.
The Composition of Waste Disposed of by the UK Hospitality Industry report estimates that over 3.4 million tonnes of waste (typically food, glass, paper and card) is produced by hotels, pubs, restaurants and quick service restaurants (QSRs) each year. Of this, 1.6 million tonnes (48%) is recycled, reused or composted, while almost 1.5 million tonnes (43%) is thrown away, mainly to landfill.
As much as 950,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions could be saved if more recyclable waste was actually recycled rather than buried in landfill.
In particular, dealing with food waste more efficiently would offer significant environmental and financial savings. Of the waste going to landfill, 600,000 tonnes is food waste, two-thirds of which (400,000 tonnes) could have been eaten. Some £724m could be saved every year if this waste stream was tackled more effectively.
The best way is to cut waste altogether, and the likes of Unilever Food Solutions have launched campaigns to help the sector better manage its waste.
But there will always be some waste, and the remainder should be recycled for economic and environmental reasons. After all, last year the median cost of sending waste to landfill was £76 per tonne; recycling that waste costs just £43 per tonne.
According to Vegware, a firm that makes compostable packaging, the average caterer could recycle almost everything and reduce costs. A spokeswoman explained:
Instead of wasting money filling the few remaining landfill sites, the contents of catering bins can be recycled, saving money and resources. Food waste can either be composted, creating compost, or anaerobically digested, creating biofertiliser and renewable energy.
Vegware is hoping to launch a website to bring UK businesses together with their perfect waste partners. The Food Waste Network, a free service, will be launched this spring.