What does the new Environment Bill mean for hospitality businesses in 2022 and beyond?

Environment Act - Hospitality

The UK’s new Environment Bill was passed and became law in November 2021, two years after first being introduced. But what does the new legislation mean for the hospitality industry, and how will it impact the sector over the next 12 months?

Our resident composting expert and sales manager, Huw Crampton, recently shared his thoughts with Hospitality Quarterly on the topic.

If you missed the original article, catch-up below:

A closer look at the Environment Bill

The driving factor behind the UK’s Environment Bill has always been to shift the sustainability dial in the right direction – veering away from being a single-use, ‘throwaway’ society and moving towards a more circular economy.

It aims to make resource efficiency and security a reality – introducing new extended producer responsibility schemes aimed at reducing plastic use, alongside a clearer labeling system, so consumers can easily identify what products and packaging are recyclable.

Also, another key area of the Bill surrounds separate food waste collections, and this will be one crucial area of change for hospitality businesses in England over the coming months.

While the Government has previously pledged to reduce food waste by 20% by 2025, the Bill has further compounded this by committing to eliminating food waste from landfill by 2030.

Therefore, under the new measures coming into force in 2023, those in the hospitality sector not already doing so, will be required to separate their food wastage from their general waste and have it collected separately.

This will be a bigger shift for some companies than it is for others – especially if there is currently no segregation of waste streams in the kitchens, or food waste is currently disposed of to a sewer by a digestion, waste-to-water system or traditional macerator. But these practices will no longer be compliant within the new legislation, so the industry needs to start reviewing and planning for the future as soon as possible.

Geography and lack of local infrastructure also needs considering. Businesses in more rural areas already know that it’s difficult to get wastes collected reliably, but now there’s going to be an extra collection, bin, and supplier needed. Therefore, now’s the time to be looking into how far away the closest food waste processing site is, and how easy and cost-effective it’s going to be to get it collected.

This shouldn’t be seen as anything to worry about though. There are ways the sector can prepare for and embrace these new measures, not only to reap environmental benefits, but to generate business value too. And there are many hotels and restaurants that have been doing this for years, whose tried-and-tested methods can be copied.

Commercial food waste recycling in action

One leading light in the hospitality industry regarding food waste is Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, in Oxfordshire.

In 2019, the Michelin-starred hotel and restaurant decided to invest in on-site composting and drying technology to enable it to deal with and compost its annual food waste.

After the waste streams are segregated by the team in the kitchens, the more difficult compostable items – such as poultry bones and used paper napkins – are pre-treated, along with food waste, in the dryer. This process blends and homogenises the materials to turn them into coffee-granule-sized particles that can then be fed into the in-vessel Rocket Composter, which creates a nutrient-rich resource in just 14 days.

At Le Manoir, the resulting compost is then used in the hotel’s vegetable and herb gardens and orchards, to grow organic produce for use in the restaurant, as well as the Raymond Blanc Cookery and Gardening Schools – a truly circular model.

But the Le Manoir site has the perfect storm – a need for compost alongside the space and materials to do so. But for those premises that don’t or can’t, then achieving Bill compliance in a reduced manner is also an option.

Under the new laws it will be permitted to dry or deliquefy the waste before collection and thankfully – unlike disposers and digesters – drying and dewatering systems will be allowed to be used. And reducing the weight and volume of the waste will also positively impact collection costs.

Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, in Oxfordshire.

A collaborative effort is needed

With legislative drivers meaning that hospitality and food service organisations need to shift their current practices to be compliant by 2023, this should be seen as an era of opportunity for the industry.

When looking at the Waste Hierarchy, prevention is undoubtedly the ideal scenario – not creating waste in the first place. But for restaurants and hotels, this isn’t always possible. Not only are there unavoidable food preparation offcuts, but it also relies on consumers making environmentally conscious decisions about the amount of food they order.

Ultimately, by implementing measures that help to minimise third-party disposal fees, comply with legislation, and contribute to a more sustainable future, hospitality businesses will be doing their bit t promote the long-term, positive change our planet needs.

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