There is no doubt but that food waste is the most challenging material to recycle in the home. Unlike the paper, plastic and tins that go into the green bin (they don’t call it clean dry recycling for nothing) food waste is often smelly, messy and generally, well yucky.
With increasing concerns about global warming we know that food waste recycling has a big part to play in looking after our planet. It’s empowering to think that part of the solution starts right here in our kitchens. Successful food waste recycling is all about finding a solution that works for you and your household. Here is our guide to the why, what and how of food waste. Before you know it you’ll be right at home with food waste recycling.
Why is food waste recycling important?
Before you begin it’s really important that both you and your household understands why food waste recycling is important. The issues around food waste in landfill go far beyond the threat of fines from waste collectors or reducing waste collection costs. It’s about being part of a sustainable economy where we are securing our future food source. If you want to learn more check out the food loop.
What can go into the food waste bin?
This sounds obvious but there are lots of subtleties around recycling food waste. Firstly, what goes into your food waste bin depends on what type of compost bin you have. If you are home composting there are lots of different types of composters available and all have different specifications. To learn more check out our previous blog post which outlines some of the considerations of home composting.
If you have a brown bin for food and garden waste most waste collectors work off the same guidelines. Generally all food waste is accepted, cooked or raw. Here is a great reference for brown bin recycling. The tricky thing to watch out for is packaging. Make sure that if you’re putting packaging in the brown bin that there is no plastic film on it. Recently we’ve been asked whether teabags are suitable for the compost bin. Unfortunately most brands of tea bags have plastic mixed in with the paper fibres so unless they are silk tea bags they are probably not suitable for the brown bin. Only disposable cutlery, plates or cups that are compostable to standard EN13432 or carry a compostable certification can be recycled with food waste.
How to set up a successful food waste recycling system
- Prioritize your waste bins. Food waste is by far the most common waste stream in the kitchen therefore it should also be the most accessible. Whether you’re using Obeo or a caddy and liner or simply a bowl it’s best to have the receptacle close at hand beside the sink or on the counter top. Make the second most accessible bin the recycling and the least accessible bin the residual or black waste.
- Drain as much moisture from your food waste as you can before putting it in the recycling bin. Food waste that is dry is less likely to smell than very wet waste. By squeezing out your tea bags, draining sauces from leftovers and removing excess oil you can help your waste to dry out a little.
- With food waste Aeration is key. With enclosed caddies condensation builds up which leads to smells and bin-juice. To avoid this use a natural paper fibre liner with an aerated caddy, a newspaper lined bowl or Obeo Food Waste Box. Bioplastics (in my opinion) are not the solution for food waste.
- Don’t keep food waste in your kitchen for longer than 3 days. No matter what solution you have for food waste recycling it is still organic material and it will break down. We recommend changing your bin every 3 days to prevent smells and residues.
- It’s coming into the spring and for a lot of us that means fruit flies. I won’t go into it now but we have a great blog all about fruit flies and how to control them.
Let’s get started
Now that you have a good system in place & have your household on board it’s a great opportunity to look at what types of waste are commonly ending up in the food waste bin. Stop Food Waste is a great resource to help us reduce food waste.
If you’re looking for a squeaky clean and smell free solution for your food waste why not try our Obeo Food Waste Boxes? Our trial pack is only €5 including shipping (Ireland only) and if you buy a 30 box subscription or single purchase, email us with your confirmation details and we will refund you €5, the price of the trial! It’s a win win.