Meat and mush missing from recycling

March 4, 2009 at 4:05 pm

It may sound revolting but local councils want more meat and mush in their recycling bins. This is the somewhat unsavoury sounding term given to plate scrapings. It seems that whilst we all know that fruit and vegetables can be recycled, we are not so sure about our meat and mush. They come bottom of the food recycling hierarchy, with cooked non-meat products coming somewhere in the middle.

The good news is that Defra has announced that there is “widespread” support from the public for separate food waste collections, with only 10% of us saying that we don’t see the point of it. Participation rates in the pilot schemes are between 50% and 80%, with the average household recycling around 3kg of food waste per week. The most successful schemes tend to be those which collect food waste separately on a weekly basis, with residual waste being picked up fortnightly. Schemes where food waste and garden waste collections are combined have a lower success rate.

Whilst there is evidence that some food is diverted away from home composting to food recycling, it is interesting to note that areas with the highest composting rates also fare well with food recycling. Those least likely to participate in food recycling schemes are younger people, students, the unemployed, certain ethnic communities, particularly small or large households, and those living in private rented accommodation or converted properties.

It was concluded at a recent Defra meeting that whilst most householders are well informed, councils need to focus their efforts on the missing meat and mush.

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