Staffordshire borough agrees 4-year food waste collection contract

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has awarded a four-year food waste collection contract to Biffa.

From July, the company's vehicles will begin collecting separated waste from 55,000 homes, which it will then treat at its anaerobic digestion (AD) facility in Cannock, one of the largest plants of its kind in Europe.

The facility converts waste no longer fit for human consumption into renewable energy gas, which is passed back to the National Grid. Another byproduct, organic biofertiliser, can be used by farmers as an alternative to chemical fertiliser.

According to recycling body WRAP, cutting the amount of food waste sent to landfill to zero by 2020 would cut the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by 27m tonnes and save around £2bn.

The council currently collects around 3,000 tonnes of food waste a year. The new service will aim to increase this to 3,500 tonnes, in part through providing households with free bin liners for segregated waste. In a trial where 12,000 homes were provided with liners and "no food waste" stickers, there was a 13 per cent increase in recyclable food waste collected.

Trevor Nicoll, head of recycling, waste and fleet services at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, said: "We've been collecting food waste separately on a weekly basis since 2010 and while we were doing OK, we hope that by working with Biffa we can raise the general issue of food waste with our residents. Together, we would like to encourage families to use our food collection service more as there is still a lot of unavoidable food waste in our residents' general waste bins.

"It is important that the food waste we collect is converted into energy locally in Staffordshire, as this fits in with our strategy to collect high quality, separate recyclate while achieving best value.

"This contract with Biffa is part of a wider service change including the insourcing of the collection service and moving to a weekly kerbside recycling service which has been designed to save more than £500,000 per year."