Reducing, reusing and recycling Christmas dinner plate scrapings and other festive leftovers this Christmas would divert waste from landfill and power homes and businesses, according to research by Tamar Energy.
British households’ Christmas indulgence sees us consume over 25 million Christmas puddings and 370 million mince pies over the festive period. But this creates around 230,000 tonnes of additional food waste, the equivalent weight of 38 million turkeys, and most of this ends up rotting in landfill.
Campaigns such as ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ offer great advice on how to reduce food waste, particularly at Christmas, and innovative ways to recycle food leftovers, such as turkey curry. But every year British households generate 1.5 million tonnes of food waste that is unavoidable, such as peelings, teabags and bones.
But if unavoidable food waste around the UK was sent to AD, it has the potential to generate up to 10% of the entire UK’s domestic gas needs. AD takes organic waste and breaks it down with special enzymes in airtight conditions (anaerobically), and the biogas given off is captured and used to make green electricity. Not only would this reduce the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions by over 2% but also save councils money by avoiding costly landfill taxes. AD also produces a nutrient rich biofertiliser that can replace environmentally damaging petro-chemical fertilisers.
In fact, if this happened across the entire country, the extra food waste over the festive period could make enough energy to light up 2.5 million Christmas trees or cook an additional 1.3 million Christmas dinners.
Dean Hislop, chief executive at Tamar Energy, said:
“Reducing the amount of food we waste is something everyone can tackle this Christmas, as the increase at this time of year is quite frightening. While I wish everyone a good holiday, I also hope we’ll all reduce, reuse and recycle more.
“Not everyone has access to a food recycling service, but where we do, it is wrong that unavoidable food waste is buried or burnt when it could be recycled into green energy and biofertiliser.”
As part of their campaign to raise awareness of the reduce, reuse, recycle message this festive period, Tamar Energy are inviting people to share their best leftover recipes on social media, using the hashtag #SeasonsEatings. There are lots of Christmas leftover recipes online to help offer inspiration (see box below).
“Unavoidable leftovers such as plate scrapings are a massive untapped source of homegrown energy. By putting this in the food recycling caddy, we could all do our bit and together we can help light lots of homes over the festive period.”
Key food waste facts:
· UK households throw away over 7 million tonnes of food and drink annually, enough to fill Wembley Stadium nine times over. Only 4.6m tonnes is collected by local authorities (Source: WRAP)
· Of the 7.2 million tonnes, 1.5 million of this is unavoidable; 4.2 million is avoidable; and 1.2 million tonnes is possibly avoidable (things like bread crusts that some people eat but others do not)
· The cost of wasting food and drink is estimated to be £700 per year (almost £60 a month) for the average household with children.
· The reduction in food and drink waste between 2007 and 2012 saved UK households £3.3 billion in 2012 alone – around £130 for the average household.
· The reduction in food waste in our bins saved local authorities around £85 million in avoided landfill tax and gate fees in 2012 alone.
Source: WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme)
Christmas leftover recipe ideas:
· Christmas pudding ice-cream, Love Food Hate Waste
· Turkey and potato curry, BBC Good Food
· Bubble and squeak pancakes, Netmums
· Time-out turkey wrap, Love Food Hate Waste
· Chicken, ham, leek and roast potato pie, BBC Good Food
Festive food waste:
AD energy generation: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/147863/3237-cons-ro-banding-arup-report.pdf
Please note that all calculations are based on an estimate of the average value of the item.