Let’s talk about food waste


The subject of food waste has been a hot topic ever since NHDC announced they were no longer going to be providing compostable liners for our food-recycling caddies.  In fact from the number of letters The Comet received I think the topic deserves it’s own name: WasteGate.

TTL has received some correspondence on this subject too, from people concerned that this change will reduce the amount of food recycled, but also asking what they should do with their food waste now.  The answer can be found on the Council’s website, but if you’ve only got a minute the answer is: chuck it in your brown bin loose OR use a caddy liner with the seedling mark.  As long as they bear the seedling mark (on the left) they’ll be fine in the bio-digester and you can buy them in most shops selling homewares.

Now, TTL would agree that all recycling should be made as easy as possible, but we would also encourage people to think of “waste” as “resource” by finding it a purpose.  We should be trying first to REDUCE the food we’re giving to the Council first.  After all, it’s a resource – why would I give it away?…



The first purpose of waste food is… well, food.  So if you want to produce less food waste, the first action to undertake is to eat up.  If you’re producing more food waste than you’re comfortable with, check out your portion sizes. Have a look at what you’re throwing out.  Is there food going straight from the fridge or fruit bowl to the bin?  If so, you’re not alone and your bank account will also thank you for focusing on buying what you need.  Think about your meal plan for the week, check your cupboards before you head to the shops, buy loose rather than multi-packs of perishable items and maybe consider going to the shops more often to replenish your stocks.

Most excess food that you’ve cooked but not served can be frozen and a few freezer-proof tubs will soon pay for themselves.  Then the real fun begins as meals get re-invented… left over spag bol becomes lasagne, stale bread becomes bread and butter pudding… slice of left-over roast dinner pie anyone?  Don’t be mistaken – thrift can be delicious.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden then you can really up the ante with a compost heap.  What’s more, you can buy one at a subsidised rate through the Council here.  Like others, I’ve been known to be quite evangelical about my heap.  All the uncooked food waste goes on there, as does the garden waste. The worms also chew through shredded bank statements and cardboard.  After 18 months I have a pile of lush, loamy compost, ready for the garden.  This really is a Transitioner’s dream: it’s made of waste, I paid nothing for it, it was locally produced, has no carbon footprint and I can use it for growing more food.

The trick with composting is to get the balance of browns (carbon based materials) and greens (nitrogen based materials) right.  It shouldn’t smell so if it does you probably ought to read this.

But you still shouldn’t put your cooked food waste on your heap, so what to do with that?  …In the caddy?  No – hang on a moment!  There are other ways…

If, despite all attempts, you still have cooked food to get rid of, a wormery can be a very useful acquisition and kids tend to find them fascinating.  (Big kids also.)  I’m told they work wonders and produce a nutrient rich “worm juice” that’ll super-power your plants.

My remaining food waste goes on the compost heap after it’s supplimented my hens’ diet.  They process the waste into eggs and chicken poo.  The latter is so amazingly rich in nitrates it acts as a compost heap activator.  DEFRA have legislated against feeding food waste to livestock, so I’m not recommending it, but I’m sure you can make up your own mind.

Logically, all that means the only food waste I should have handed over to NHDC in the last fortnight is a bone from the Sunday roast.  I think the refuse collector is welcome to that!

For more hints and tips on reducing your food waste, check out the excellent Love Food, Hate Waste website.  And if you have any hints and tips to share, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.


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