Trial food waste collection scheme gets underway next week

Published: Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Residents in more than 2,000 households in Southfields are being urged to take part in an experiment starting next week that could help determine the future of waste collections in the borough and potentially help reduce the borough’s carbon footprint.

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Around 2,300 households in a part of the borough known locally as the Southfields Grid have been invited to take part in a food waste collection pilot scheme, which will get underway on Thursday, November 11.

The results of the trial will help refuse and recycling service managers assess the merits of introducing a borough-wide scheme to collect food waste separately.

The council collects around 25,000 tonnes of food waste mixed in with other rubbish every year.

At the moment this is sent by river barge, along with all the other non-recyclable rubbish collected from the borough’s 144,000 homes, to an energy from waste facility, which uses it in place of fossil fuels to generate electricity that powers approximately 17,000 homes.

As part of the trial, separated out food waste will instead be sent to an anaerobic digestion plant where micro-organisms will break it down to produce a biogas that is fed into the National Gas Grid, as well as liquid fertiliser used to improve agricultural soils.

Homes included in the Southfields trial have been given kitchen food caddies and bio-degradable caddy liners to store their food waste, plus larger external food containers which will then be collected weekly as part of their normal refuse and recycling collection service.

The council’s director of environment and community services Paul Chadwick said: “The council has a target to reduce its carbon emissions and become a carbon neutral organisation by 2030 and zero-carbon by 2050.

“This means examining and evaluating everything we do to see what changes we need to make to achieve these targets.

“We are proceeding with a limited pilot scheme to begin with to see how well it works. We know from other areas that have introduced similar initiatives that there are barriers to achieving high levels of participation and we want to get a better understanding of these.

“Lessons already learned in other boroughs are that although these schemes can work well initially, the amount collected tends to tail off quite significantly over time. Given the high cost of investment to bring this forward, it is important that we study the results of the pilot and work out what works best for our residents.

“The council’s main focus remains to actively encourage residents to reduce all forms of waste, including food, which is by far the best environmental outcome. Minimising the amount of waste material that needs to be collected and processed is a key element of our carbon reduction programme.”

Collecting food waste separately will likely require different vehicles than those used to collect the remaining household waste and recycling.

• The council has also unveiled a home composting trial which could see food scraps, peelings and other organic waste processed in back gardens, providing homeowners with a ready source of nutrients for their plants and flowers.

For more information on the council’s plans to tackle climate change visit https://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/news/campaigns/climate-change/