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Richmond residents throw away over 14,000 tonnes of food each year... but recycle less than a fifth of it

Release Date: 04 March 2021

Richmond upon Thames residents are being urged to make efforts to reduce their food waste and recycle everything they don’t eat, as the truth about Richmond’s food waste habits have been revealed in the Council’s latest Talk Richmond podcast episode.

In 2020, Richmond Council and West London Waste Authority carried out waste composition analysis to look at what Richmond households are throwing away in their rubbish bins or black sacks and what could have been recycled using the Council’s recycling service.

The analysis looked at general waste from around 200 households who have access to the Council’s kerbside food waste recycling service. It found that almost a third of what people are throwing away in their rubbish bins is food waste - all of which could have been recycled using food waste caddies and bins. This equals around 80% of the total amount of food wasted by Richmond households – meaning only 20% is recycled by people proactively using the Council’s food recycling service.

Of the food waste not recycled, well over half was food that could have been eaten, as opposed to unavoidable food waste like egg shells, tea bags and banana skins. Much of this food was also still in its packaging.

In the Talk Richmond podcast episode, West London Waste Authority Managing Director Emma Beal talks about the findings of the analysis, what happens to our food recycling and the huge impact food waste has on our carbon emissions. She is joined by Katie Allen, Founder of Food For Thought Heathfield, who talks about the simple habits, such as storage and planning, that can help residents reduce the amount of food they waste at home.

Cllr Julia Neden-Watts, Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, said:

'Richmond residents waste over 14,000 tonnes of food each year. The figures from the waste analysis are shocking, especially for a borough lucky enough to have a food recycling service. It’s not all bad – compared to our neighbouring boroughs, Richmond upon Thames does put less food waste in with general rubbish. But this borough has declared a climate emergency and we should all be doing more to reduce that 30% figure to zero.

'This is a distressing level of food waste originating from land that should be used productively to feed people – not the incinerator! To tackle food waste, we need to acknowledge its existence and try our best to change our behaviours. Even something small each week, like being creative with leftovers or sticking to your shopping list, will make a difference.

'Some food waste is inevitable, and this is where our food recycling service comes in. If you have access to food recycling at your property, please make sure you have ordered a free food recycling bin from the Council and are using it each week, along with your choice of kitchen caddy. You can of course also compost your fruit and vegetable waste, which is a great way to recycle within your own garden, if you have one!

'We will be running this waste analysis again later this year, so l look forward to seeing the evidence that Richmond residents are making positive changes to address the food waste problem.'

Visit our food recycling page to check recycling information and to order free food waste bins and kitchen caddies.

Listen to the latest Talk Richmond podcast.

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Effie Lochrane on 020 8487 5162.

Reference: P094/21

Updated: 29 March 2021