How to Recycle Food Waste at Home
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
A Guide to Caddy Bags and How to Recycle Food Waste in the UK
Why is it Important to Recycle Food Waste?
As stewards of the environment, we are responsible for preserving and protecting our resources; for ourselves and for future generations.
Food waste is a global issue that many say is quickly turning into a full blown crisis; a pandemic of prodigality, an epidemic of excess. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates that one-third of all food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted globally. Alarmingly, this amounts to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food and water being frittered away every year. That's enough to feed the whole of Britain; Europe, and America combined, and then some.
To bring these figures closer to home; last year it was estimated that Britain's wastefulness caused us to squander a shocking 10 million tonnes of food and drink; that's enough to fill a third of the Three Gorges Dam or the Empire State Building three-times over.
Each person in the UK generates around 170 kg of organic food waste each year.
It's getting so bad that, according to WRAP (a UK charity better known as the Waste & Resources Action Programme), our food waste habits - which blow approximately £20 billion each year - contributes to the production of over 22 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. What's more shocking, though, is the fact that 60 per cent of all that waste could have been avoided.
Out of the 10 million tonnes of food and drink we waste in the UK, only 1.8 million tonnes of it is currently recycled
So, with our nation's dependency on food banks increasing (our reliance on these has soared 4-fold since 2012), and with families and our planet suffering because of our love for glut and excess, it really is high time we tackle the issues of food waste in the UK.
But how does disposing of our household or workplace food waste help? Does composting really matter? And does recycling organic material on such a small-scale really make a big difference? The short answer is; yes.
Read on to find out why.
Why Recycle Food Waste
In the hierarchy of preventing food waste, recycling or home composting organic matter obviously comes after trying to prevent raw organic materials; natural ingredients and products from being wasted in the first place. However, if surplus genuinely can't be stopped and if we can't redistribute foodstuffs to family; friends or charity organisations - or if for health and safety reasons excess food cannot be eaten - then this waste should be composted.
You may think there's little difference between sending your food waste to a landfill site and putting it in a caddy bin or compost pile, but there is.
The main difference being that if organic matter (including cardboard, newspaper, and garden cuttings) is sent to landfill, not only does it scar the land but an inordinate amount of methane is produced. This is neither good for us or the planet because methane is a harmful greenhouse gas that is 21 times more powerful than CO2. However, if food waste is recycled or placed in a compost heap, the decomposition process is completely natural and zero methane is produced.
If a quarter of us switched from dumping organic waste in landfill sites to composting it, we'd save the equivalent of 2.5m tonnes of CO2 from reaching the atmosphere every year.
As well as helping to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, it's important to recycle food waste because;
Composting helps create nutrient-rich, water-retaining humus that all crops, plants and trees need to grow healthy and strong;
Compost reduces - and in some cases eliminates - the need for chemical fertilisers;
Using compost promotes higher yields of agricultural crops;
This byproduct of organic decay can also help aid reforestation, wetland restoration, and habitat revitalization by improving contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils;
It can also be used to re-mediate soils that have been contaminated by hazardous waste in a cost effective manner;
Compost can also capture and destroy 99.6 percent of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air, and;
By composting on a commercial-scale in facilities that force food waste to decompose in a way that produces methane, electricity can be generated from collecting and harnessing this greenhouse gas
So, recycling food waste is essential. But how do we do it?
How to Recycle Your Food Waste
There are several ways to recycle food waste here in the UK. One way - which is the best method if your local council currently doesn't operate a food waste recycling scheme - is to buy or build a compost heap in your garden. Or to ask a neighbour to share theirs, if they have one.
For more information on building; buying, making and using compost at home, click here.
Another way you can recycle food waste is to donate it to smallholdings and farmers so that they can use it as a nutritious animal feed for their livestock. Anyone with goats, chickens and pigs would be grateful for your organic rubbish.
But the easiest way by far to recycle food waste - if your council does run a food waste recycling scheme - is to collect it in compostable caddy bags. Conducive to being Earth-friendly, they're a convenient way for your local authority to come and collect your organic matter, which they'll then send to an anaerobic digestion processing facility to turn it into electricity.
The only thing with using kitchen or kerbside food waste caddy liners is that not many people like using them; they've got a reputation for not being user-friendly.
That's because most biodegradable food waste bags aren't fit for purpose. Like the flimsy, paper-thin carriers of old, most caddy bags for sale have a tendency to tear and a predilection to pop; they even seem to have a fondness for exploding. Not great when you're trying to do your bit for the planet while keeping your kitchen and caddy bin hygienically clean and smell-free.
But with a little effort and with a little diligence, food waste recycling doesn't have to be messy, smelly or frustrating. So, here are our top tips on how to recycle food waste conveniently at work or at home without any of the fuss or the muss.
How to Look After Your Caddy Bin and Recycle Food Waste Without Getting into a Flap
1. Buy high-quality biodegradable caddy liners made from potato starch
Most caddy bags for food waste are primarily made from either corn or wheat starch. These organic materials aren't as strong or as pliant as potato-based caddy bin liners, which is why you may have experienced bags ripping, tearing and leaking in the past.
At Eco Packaging Solutions, we only sell Bags4Caddies kitchen caddy bags as they're made in the UK from GM-free potato starch, as well as other plant extracts, vegetable oils and innovative compostable bio-plastics; all of which give the liners a fantastic tensile strength. As a result, these cutting-edge food caddy bags are dependably durable, strong even when wet, and are extremely convenient to use.
Bags4Caddies caddy bags also make for a great barrier against bacteria and viruses - and they won't cause as much condensation to collect inside your caddy bin - as they have a very low water vapour transmission rate; their ability to resist moisture is excellent.
2. Don't fill your compostable caddy liners with too much organic waste
It's never a good idea to overfill any type of bin bag as the more you put in them, the higher the risk the liners will lose their strength and will rip or burst. So, don't fill your food waste bags up too much. Which leads us on to our next tip;
3. Empty your caddy bin more regularly - especially in the summer - or don't use one at all!
Just because you buy kitchen caddy bin bags, doesn't mean you have to use them in a bin. So long as you've purchased high quality caddy liners, it's quite acceptable to leave them out on the side in your kitchen or utility room. Doing so will eliminate smells from building up inside your caddy bin; it'll eliminate the frustrating task of having to wash out your kitchen caddy if leaks and condensation occur, and you'll no longer have to worry about liners ripping or exploding when you take them out of your bin.
Just make sure you remove the kitchen caddy liners to your outside bin at the end of every day. And don't worry, recycling food waste this way doesn't mean you're squandering or misusing the liners; you're using them as they're intended to be used. Caddy bags were never designed to hold vast amounts of organic matter for long periods of time (and by long periods of time we mean a two days or more).
4. Keep your caddy bin and food caddy liners out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat and moisture
If you do want to keep using your caddy bin, make sure to keep it out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat and moisture (like your kitchen sink, oven, microwave and tumble dryer), otherwise the bags inside will start to get warm and moist and will begin to do what they do best; degrade!
That's why, in the summer when it's usually hot and humid, caddy bins can become quite smelly and attract fruit flies as organic matter decomposes more efficiently - and faster - in the warm and damp. And when this process begins, that's when three major odour-causing compounds are released; sulfur, nitrogen, and carbon.
So, find and relocate your caddy bin - and your food caddy bin bags - to a cool, dry, dark spot.
5. Place kitchen roll on the bottom of your kitchen caddy and wrap food in newspaper
Food waste bags, whether they're high-quality or not, will always release water. The production of H20 is a natural byproduct of the compost caddy bags deterioration process, which is why you'll find - particularly on hot summer days - that your caddy bin will collect condensation on the lid and will begin to pool with water at the bottom.
To prevent this from happening, fold over a sheet of kitchen roll and place on the bottom of the bin to soak up any moisture. You can also wrap any food waste in newspaper first before putting it in the bin which will also go a long way to absorbing any condensation.
6. Keep fruit flies and smells at bay in a natural way
One of the biggest complaints we've heard about recycling food waste, and one of the most common reasons for why people don't recycle theirs, is because of fruit flies and bad smells.
Fruit flies, as the name suggests, are attracted to ripe fruit but they also love other organic waste, particularly if it's on the turn. So, it's no wonder that in summer when the weather is hotter and food waste decays faster, that fruit flies - and bad smells - are attracted to your kitchen caddy bin.
Most fresh produce we buy from the supermarket is covered in fly eggs, but they're so small we can't see them. So, if you forget to wash your fruit and veg and you place all the scraps and waste from them into your caddy bin, you're essentially putting those eggs into an incubator. Bleurgh. Which explains why, when you open your caddy bin sometimes, fruit flies appear as if from nowhere...
So, here are a few ways of preventing your caddy bin from being mobbed by fruit flies and being inundated with smells:
Always wash your fruit and veg: try to get rid of those fruit fly eggs before they have a chance to hatch
Minimize how much waste you're collecting: empty your caddy bin more often. Less food equals fewer flies and fewer smells
Freeze your organic waste instead: an alternative to collecting food waste in kitchen caddy bags is to place your food rubbish into an old container and place it in the freezer. Once full, pour the frozen organic matter into a compostable caddy liner and dump directly into your kerbside caddy bin outside. The cold temperature will kill any fruit fly eggs and will keep bad smells at bay
Layer your compost: place a paper towel or brown paper bag over your food waste at equal intervals to soak up any moisture. This will keep bad odours at bay and should forestall any onslaughts from fruit flies as food rots more slowly when there is no liquid
Fight bad odours with delicious aromas: fruit flies don't like strong smells, so get a cotton wool pad, soak it in tea tree oil and sellotape it to the lid of your caddy bin. Not only will this defend your bin from flies, it'll also keep your bin smelling fresh. You could also try soaking a sponge in lavender oil and wiping the inside of your lid with it or placing cedar balls next to where you keep your caddy bin. Basil plants are also known to repel fruit flies, so either place a basil plant near your caddy bin or sprinkle some basil leaves directly into your food waste bags. They also dislike incense and lemongrass, so experiment until you find something that keeps both the flies and the smells at bay.
Trap the little blighters: in a small container, combine half a cup of fruit juice, two drops of vinegar and two drops of liquid dish soap and seal the container with cling film. Poke holes into the wrap with a toothpick and place the container beside or on top of your caddy bin. The fermenting vinegar and fruit juice will attract adult flies and the soap will kill them. Empty the container every three to four days.
So, there you have it; our top tips on how to make recycling your food waste an easier, cleaner job. If you'd like to share any tips on home composting or ways that people can keep their kitchen caddy bins clean, smell-free and fruit fly-free, please let us know in the comments below.
Need to buy caddy liners?
If you're looking to upgrade the way you recycle your food waste and are after some heavy duty kitchen caddy bin bags, then please check out our full range of caddy liners, here. We even sell paper-based kitchen caddy liners; they're also fantastic at retaining their tensile strength, even when they're wet.