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Monday, 2 September 2013

Zero Waste Week

Did you know that this week is national Zero Waste Week.  The zero waste week campaign is now in its sixth year and each year tackles a different theme .  This year's campaign tackles the problem of food waste and it starts today.

You can sign up to get a daily email about how to reduce your food waste.  There are some good tips in there (I know because I edited the emails!).  You sign up on this website:  Every day, you'll get an email with some tips on how to reduce food waste and there's a challenge you can take part in too.

I've signed up even though I already know what's in the emails.  As an editor you have to keep your backside firmly glued to the chair and concentrate on how the words work together, and whether they get the message across as efficiently as they can. Every time I sat down to edit one of the daily emails I was tempted to go running to my fridge to see what I had that needed using up.  That's why I've signed up.

Given that food prices have rocketed in recent years, it seems a great thing to focus on when you want to reduce your waste.  Because let's face it, if you are throwing away food that could have been eaten, that's pretty much like throwing away money.  And, that's pretty much always in short supply!

The savings from looking at how you deal with food waste are two-fold.

Most people end up throwing away a quarter of the food they buy. So, firstly, there's the simple fact that if you make the most of the food you buy and don't throw it away, you can cut your food budget by a quarter.  If you spend £60 a week on food then you could be saving £15 of that every week by making sure you use all the food you buy.

Secondly, the more food you waste, the more it costs your local council to deal with it.  And that cost is part of what YOU have to pay for in your council tax!

Many local councils now provide households with a kitchen caddy and a food waste bin. If you have one and don't use it read on...

When I met with the head of waste management at my local council he explained the huge financial advantage of householders using their food caddies rather than their landfill bins.  For every tonne of food waste diverted from landfill to be taken to our local anaerobic digestion plant gives a saving of around £50.  This is because sending waste to landfill incurs a tax, called Landfill Tax.  This is currently set at £72 a tonne and is set to rise to £80 a tonne in April 2104.  In addition to the landfill tax, the council has to pay a gate fee of around £21.  So, the average cost of sending a tonne of waste to landfill in the UK is currently £93*.  The cost of sending food waste to anaerobic digestion is on average £41.  Did you know that on average one household generates around a third of a tonne of food waste every year.  So that's only three households that share that cost and YES, of course, it goes straight onto your council tax bill!

It would be nice, wouldn't it, if those who still send food waste to landfill had to pay more in council tax than those of us who avoid food waste and compost the unavoidable bits, or dispose of them in their food waste bin.  That doesn't happen anywhere in the UK yet, as far as I'm aware, but maybe it will come!

 We can all do our bit to reduce our council tax bill:

  • by reducing the amount of food we waste,
  • by disposing of the unavoidable food waste in a compost bin or the local council's food waste bin,
  • by encouraging friends, family and neighbours to do the same!
So, if you haven't already signed up to Zero Waste Week, why not give it a go.  And don't forget to talk about what you learn, the things you try out and the money you save!

I plan to photograph and weigh my food waste caddy every day.  I hope it won't look too grim so I can post it on here!

Monday lunchtime, the food waste caddy contains
 two banana skins and three tea bags.

My fridge is rammed full of food, so it will be a challenge this week.  But we'll see.  Bring on the Zero Waste Week challenge!


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