New food caddies in West Berkshire – are they goodies or baddies?

food waste caddy

Further to the article Brian wrote on this subject on 22 September, we wanted to remind readers that the new weekly food waste collection started in West Berkshire on 31 October (and will do on 28 November for households which receive a communal bin store collection). So far, this seems to be working well though there are some inevitable teething problems.

We spoke to WBC’s Waste Manager Kofi Adu-Gyamfi on 18 October and he stressed again that concerns (to which we refer below) are wholly unfounded. He urged all residents to give the new system a chance. He said that there was a need to change behaviour about how the stuff we don’t use is dealt with: this is, however, a national issue, not something that WBC is insisting on just to make our lives more complicated.

A side-effect of this might be that, by putting all food waste in a separate container, it becomes easier for every household to see what foods it tends to throw away and to adjust shopping, cooking or consumption accordingly. (One tip I’ve learned from experience is that stale or stale-ish bread can be turned into breadcrumbs and frozen.)

Anyway – the scheme should produce benefits for all concerned (once we’ve got used to it).

The new scheme

You should have received a plastic food caddy by now – actually two: a small grey five-litre one to keep in the kitchen and a larger green 23-litre one for kerbside collection. You can read more about this on WBC’s website here or watch this demonstration video here.

In the new scheme, everyone is being asked to put their food waste in their new food kerbside caddy which you need to put out for collection weekly – one week with your black bin, the next week with your recycling bins (plastic bottles, cardboard etc). The only kind of food you can’t put in the bin are red meat, oils, liquids or fats. Please do not put any papre, cardboard or packaging in the food waste bin.

A waste of time?

A number of local residents are worried this new scheme is a waste of time and money so we asked those responsible at West Berkshire Council to explain why this new collection is being introduced.

“Food caddies and liners are emphatically not a ‘waste of money’,” Environment portfolio-holder Steve Ardagh-Walter reassured us. “By encouraging more residents to separate their food waste, WBC will save money as well as reducing its carbon footprint.  More food waste will be composted locally at Padworth, instead of being transported to Energy for Waste facilities (where we also pay per tonne of waste which is processed.) Currently, around 25% of black bin waste in the district is food waste. We are asking all residents to help reduce this number by using the weekly food-waste collection service when it is introduced at the end of October.”

Kofi Adu-Gyamfi, WBC’s Waste Manager, added a further point. “The introduction of separate weekly collection of food waste from households will help WBC comply with a statutory requirement which has been set out by the government in the Environment Act 2021 [see Section 57 (45A-(8)]. Therefore, this is not only a beneficial change but a necessary one.”

It is worth noting that the compost created at Padworth is PAS100 certified soil conditioner for use by local farmers and landscapers and is occasionally offered free to local residents to help themselves.

What can I put in the caddies?

You can recycle the same items of food waste as the current service. This includes:

  • meat and fish
  • fruit and vegetables
  • cheese and eggs
  • bread and pastries
  • uneaten food from plates
  • tea bags and coffee grounds

And what should I not put in them?

Please do not put bones from red meat, oils, liquids, fats or packaging into your caddy.

Do you have to use a liner bag?

Please bear in mind that you don’t have to spend money on the liner bags and you can put your food waste directly into the caddy. If you do use bags, just make sure they are compostable. The kitchen caddy has a five-litre capacity and you can purchase liners from Compost Bag UK and most supermarkets.

If you have your own composter, wormery or bokashi bin at home, you can certainly keep your food waste for that. There is no obligation to give it to the council. In fact the council encourages residents to start their own composter.

The bigger picture on food waste

This collection is great but the bigger aim is to reduce the amount of food waste that we create in the first place as this is a big contributor to our carbon footprint. The 23-litre size kerbside caddy is designed to be big enough for an average household’s weekly waste. If you find you are creating more waste, please think about the amount of food you buy and try to have less that goes off in your fridge or doesn’t get eaten at mealtimes. Please see lovefoodhatewaste.com for some ideas that will also save you money on your food bills.

What will happen to our existing big green bins?

This new scheme will also solve the confusion about the big green waste bins which always took food waste and can also be used for garden waste but only if you pay for this service.

If you pay for the garden waste service your big green wheelie bin will still be collected and this process will be more efficient as the trucks will go directly to only the households that pay.

If you don’t pay for the garden waste service and currently have a green wheelie bin, Kofi told us that you are welcome to find an alternative use for it, perhaps for collecting and composting leaves, as a water butt or for storage.

FAQs

If you have any questions please see the council’s Food Waste FAQs page here.

 

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