COVID-19 | Councils urged to prepare for “surge” in food waste

A “huge upsurge” in household food and garden waste is expected over the coming weeks and months due to the coronavirus pandemic, a Northern Ireland organics recycling company has said.

Natural World Products (NWP) processes organic household material which it converts into compost, delivering around half of all recycling from collected household waste streams in Northern Ireland.

The company’s Chief Executive, Colm Warren, said councils should “prioritise” the collection of organic material over the coming weeks to not only deal with the upturn but to keep effective household recycling practices at the forefront of people’s minds.

Colm said: “In a normal April, we would handle over 20 thousand tonnes of discarded organics from households in Northern Ireland alone, but that figure will in all likelihood be eclipsed this year.

As householders are required to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are expecting a significant uplift in volumes of organics – especially discarded food scraps – to come through domestic waste collections

“As householders are required to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are expecting a significant uplift in volumes of organics – especially discarded food scraps – to come through domestic waste collections.

“Families will be having all their meals at home, generating additional food waste, while we anticipate garden waste to increase as people turn to outside jobs such as grass cutting to occupy their time.”

The call has been issued against a backdrop of many people panic-buying groceries at supermarkets and a reduction in many council’s waste services due to staff shortages.


“People can play their part in ensuring organic materials are disposed of in the correct manner, providing, of course, it continues to be collected by their local authority.

“It is imperative that councils make the collection of food and garden waste a priority to ensure such material does not end up in the black or grey bin and then ultimately in landfill or incineration, bringing with it all the associated additional costs to local authorities and ratepayers – in addition to the negative and highly undesirable environmental impact at a time when the effective recycling of this type of material is playing such a crucial role in the fight against the other global emergency we are currently battling – climate change.

“A tonne of organic compost applied to soil is equivalent of around 375kgs of CO2 kept out of our atmosphere – close to 900kgs where it replaces peat-based fertilisers, as it often does in this country.

“In a black or grey bin, that carbon saving will be lost and we’ll actually only be adding greenhouse gases as well as costing our local ratepayers almost double the disposal cost. It’s a time for cool heads and clear thinking from our local authorities and NWP and its partners in the recycling sector stand ready to help wherever we can.”

NWP has put a range of measures in place across all sites to ensure the business is capable of handling increased volumes of material during the period of the pandemic, it says.

Preventing food waste

A new platform to help tackle food waste resulting from coronavirus pandemic, aims to match people buying and selling produce.

FruPro has launched a free platform to help tackle food waste and keep the fresh produce supply chain moving, in response to ongoing social distancing measures from the coronavirus pandemic.

The platform provides users with a way to buy or sell produce with an offer and search function.

“We just want to connect people who are looking to buy product, with people who are looking to sell product. This is a non-profit exercise for FruPro, our only motivation is to keep the nation fed. No product should be going in the bin at the moment. There’s no excuse for it,” says Will Hill, CEO of FruPro.

FruPro developed the platform to ease major supply chain disruptions resulting from social distancing measures, which have badly hit several sectors of the economy.

“Let’s get a platform out there where people can just click on it and say ‘I need, I’ve got’. If you’re looking for strawberries and someone is looking to sell them in the UK, then we will match you. The sale won’t go through us, we’re not doing the buying and selling, it’s making sure that fruit and veg isn’t wasted.”

Access the web platform here.

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