Businesses say Oxford Food Waste Collection Pilot is “a great success”

Food WasteOxford hospitality and catering businesses say a recycling initiative has made a big difference to the amount of food waste they dump in landfill, and helped cut costs. One leading city hotel group says the recycling initiative has cut the amount of food waste it dumps by 35 per cent.

The comments came at a food waste forum with a number of the 90 city hospitality and catering businesses that were involved in the free food waste collection trial.

The Oxfordshire Waste Partnership (OWP) project was aimed at cutting the amount of food waste dumped unnecessarily in landfill. It involved Oxford City Council offering free food waste collections for three months to hospitality and catering businesses and others who have food waste as a big issue. The funding covered start up costs, such as bins, and showed businesses how recycling their food waste can help them save money in other areas, as well as boosting their green credentials.

Tom Ross, Head of Operations for Mogford Ltd, which includes The Old Bank and The Old Parsonage hotels, Gees Restaurant and Quod Brasserie & Bar, says: “The food waste trial has been a great success. The representatives from the council have been incredibly helpful with their support. Not only are we sending 35% less to landfill in only 3 months but we are also saving money doing it.”

OWP and the City Council are now encouraging those involved in the trial, and other Oxford businesses, to make food waste collections a regular part of their operations. Oxfordshire County Council Commercial Waste Reduction Officer, Gavin Hull, who led the project for the OWP, says: “The feedback from the businesses that took part in the forum was totally positive in terms of the amounts of food waste they were able to recycle rather than dump, and the impact that had on reducing their costs. What is very encouraging is that they’re sticking with the scheme even though their free trial period has ended because the benefits to their business outweigh the costs.”

Other comments from those involved in the trial who took part in the food waste forum included: Patrick Vale from Daily Info, the online guide to Oxford life, who said: “At Daily Info we have been recycling food waste on our own for some time. The new food waste collection scheme has made this a lot easier to manage, and we’re really pleased with the results.”

Paul Fraemohs, head chef at Somerville College said: “I think the Oxford food waste collection service is a brilliant idea. Not only is it good for the environment and business but it also reduces the cost of disposing of your waste.“

The forum, hosted by Mogford Ltd at Quod Brasserie & Bar, also provided feedback on a number of issues which is helping the City Council tailor their food waste collection service going forward. These included: the possibility of creating new signage to help alert staff to the scheme, and explain how to use it, the size and strength of the food waste collection bags being used, the possibility of having small caddie-type bins in the kitchen for businesses that have a small amount of waste, and the idea of creating an accreditation schema for those recycling food waste City Commercial Waste Engagement Co-ordinator, Andrew Trayer, says: “The council is constantly looking at sustainable ways to assist the business community of Oxford in reducing their waste management costs. The food waste trial presented an opportunity for our customers to ‘try before they buy’, and they did with fantastic results. We now have an increasing number of customers committed to improving their green credentials, benefiting our city, and saving money in the process.”

The city-wide trial was funded by ReMade South East, a not-for-profit company which helps divert valuable waste away from landfill into new products. It was supported by a £55,000 grant awarded to Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council via Oxfordshire Waste Partnership. The service was offered free of charge by Oxford City Council for three months, before businesses had to chose whether to pay to continue having their food waste collected.

Once collected, the food waste is taken to Cassington, just outside Oxford, where it is treated by a process known as anaerobic digestion: composting without oxygen. This creates methane, which is captured and converted into renewable energy, generating enough electricity to power more than 4,200 homes. It also produces an excellent biofertiliser, known as digestate, which is spread on local farmland.


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