KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-news - since 2002
26th May 2017
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With an estimated 5.8 million tonnes of food waste collected by local authorities in the UK every year, exploring alternative options for disposal is vital. This is especially true in inner city and urban environments where some of the 'traditional' solutions pose problems for both residents and local authorities, particularly where flatted, multi-tenanted or terraces properties are prevalent.
Storing and segregating food waste is difficult in these situations due to limited space and can result in health and nuisance issues. Further problems result from food scraps contaminating dry recyclable waste streams while segregating waste frequently results in extra kerbside collections. Including disposal, these are estimated to cost local authorities approximately £33 per household per year. They also consume valuable energy and create disruption in congested residential streets along with noise, pollution and a plague of plastic bins and sacks.
One effective and environmentally beneficial solution is the use of in-sink food waste disposers (FWDs). These fit the standard 90mm wastes of kitchen sinks and grind food into small particles, enabling it to be washed away through the existing pipework to a wastewater treatment plant where it may be processed using anaerobic digestion.
The government is pushing the nationwide expansion of the capacity of anaerobic digesters and, by 2015, 85% of all wastewater solids in England and Wales will be digested anaerobically. This has positive eco-benefits as the resulting biogas is used to generate electricity while the treated biosolids are employed in agricultural soil improvement.
Since 2008, both Stockholm in Sweden, and Milwaukee, USA, have encouraged FWD installation in order to increase biogas production at their wastewater treatment plants. Currently only 6% of homes in the UK use FWDs but a study on the impacts of FWD use in Herefordshire and Worcestershire has proved their environmental credentials. It established that for every one tonne of food waste diverted from landfill to waste water treatment plants, almost one tonne of CO2 equivalent emissions is avoided, attributing a negative carbon footprint or carbon credits to this method of food waste management.
This does not mean that existing methods should be forgotten. There is no one fits all solution to disposing of kitchen waste. Good kitchen design, combined with relevant, well integrated waste management 'sorter' systems, is essential to enable discerning consumers to meet their needs for home composting, kerbside collection and other routes to disposal. Through their installation not only does the environment benefit but everyone from the kitchen retailer to the end user is a winner.
3rd June 2011