Food recycling in Essex

A person placing a banana peel into a food recycling caddy on a kitchen countertop in front of a plant and a window.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Did you know, roughly 25% of waste thrown away in the general rubbish bin is food? Not only is this a waste of money but it’s also damaging the environment. This is why Essex County Council are working in partnership with local councils across Essex to increase the amount of food being recycled at the kerbside.

How we're tackling food recycling rates in Essex

If you live in participating areas, you have a wheeled general rubbish bin, and a food waste recycling collection service, you may receive:

  • a new sticker secured to your wheeled general rubbish bin
  • a one-off delivery of a roll of compostable food caddy liners 
  • an information leaflet 

If your sticker has been posted through your door, please feel free to stick this on your wheeled general rubbish bin. All residents with a wheeled rubbish bin have received the sticker and your rubbish will still be collected. The sticker just acts as a gentle reminder for you and your neighbours to make the most of your food recycling service and help the environment!

Over the next year, we will be delivering the same items to all eligible households across Essex in three phases:

  • Phase one (July - August): Braintree, Colchester & Epping Forest.
  • Phase two (September - January 2024): Harlow, Tendring & Uttlesford.
  • Phase three (January 2024 - March): Basildon, Maldon & Rochford.

The aim of this project is to reduce the amount of food thrown away in the general rubbish and encourage the use of food recycling caddies and the food recycling collection service. 

(Please note, for residents living in Rochford and Epping Forest, separate food caddies are not provided for residents. Instead, food can be recycled using your mixed garden and food waste bins.)

The best thing we can do with our food is enjoy it. If it can’t be eaten and enjoyed, then it should be recycled. Don’t forget that reducing the food you throw away can save you up to £60 a month! Check out our tips on how to reduce your food waste at home.

Why you should recycle your food 

When food is sent to landfill, it doesn’t just safely breakdown. Instead, it lets off harmful greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.

However, when food is recycled at the kerbside, it is transformed into energy and fertiliser. It's amazing to think that recycling just six tea bags will generate enough energy to boil a kettle to make another cuppa!

Disposing of food in the general rubbish is also costly. In fact, it’s costing Essex taxpayers £9 million a year to dispose of! By recycling food, you will be helping to save money that could be spent on other essential services.

What happens to the food recycled by Essex residents?

In Essex, most food recycling is collected by your local council's waste and recycling crews and taken to local processing plants. Anything that is not food, such as caddy liner bags or packaging, is then separated from the load.

The food is then processed and transformed into a biogas and fertiliser. This biogas is used to generate energy. By using this energy, it reduces our need to use fossil fuels.

Your local food recycling service

To find out more information about your food recycling service, please visit your local council’s website. You will be able to find out more information including what can and cannot be put in your caddy, and what time to present your food recycling for collection. You will also be able to order a replacement caddy if yours has been lost or broken.

*Please note, for residents living in Rochford and Epping Forest, separate food caddies are not provided for residents. Instead, food can be recycled using your mixed garden and food waste bins. 

Learn more about the food recycling process

Watch this video to find out how your food is recycled and transformed into energy and fertiliser.

Food recycling FAQ's

The project:

 

Who is paying for the materials?

Essex County Council is funding this one-off project, in a bid to increase the use of existing recycling services, with support from local councils in rolling out the project. Food thrown away in the general rubbish bin in Essex is still costing around £9 million a year to dispose of. By recycling any food that can’t be eaten, you will be helping to save money that can be spent on other essential council services.

Why aren't flats involved in the roll-out? 

This project was designed using best practice provided by WRAP and is therefore currently only rolling-out to households with a wheeled general rubbish bin and a food recycling collection service. However, Essex County Council is currently looking into how to expand to other properties across Essex.  


Where does our food go when it's recycled? 

Scroll back up to read about what happens to your food recycling in Essex, or watch the video above.

 

Why are you trying to increase food recycling in Essex?

If everyone added their food scraps and leftovers to their food caddies instead of their general rubbish bins, food can be turned into energy and fertiliser. Recycling food is much better for the environment than when it decomposes in landfill.

How will you know if the project is a success?

Essex County Council will use weight based data to assess the amount of food that is collected by local food recycling collection services. We will be able to compare this to previous records to see if the project has been successful in increasing the amount of food recycled. 

 

I don’t want to recycle my food waste

All residents with a wheeled general rubbish bin and food recycling services have been delivered all three items (liners, leaflet and sticker). If everyone recycles as much as possible, we can reduce the environmental impact and cost of managing Essex’s waste. When recycled, food waste can be turned into energy to power homes and businesses, and fertiliser.

 

I don’t recycle my food, I compost it. Is that OK?

That’s great to hear! Home composting is a fantastic way of recycling nutrients and producing soil improver for use in your garden. If you have any food waste that is not suitable for your compost bin, such as cooked foods, please do make the most out of your kerbside food recycling collection service.

 

Delivery items:

 

What should I do if I didn’t receive a delivery?

The deliveries for each phase will take place over a month. The delivery service working on behalf of Essex County Council will deliver the items through your letterbox or to a safe place on your premises. They will also endeavour to revisit any missed households, but unfortunately a small number may not receive the items and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.


Please note, flats, households without wheeled general rubbish bins and households that do not receive a food recycling collection service have not been included in the deliveries on this occasion. To find out other appropriate ways to recycle your food (liners aren’t always necessary), please check out your local council's website listed above.

 

Why did I get a sticker through my door?

If your bin was not presented at kerbside or easily accessible when making their way to your door, the delivery service will have posted your sticker through your door together with your one-off roll of compostable liners and information leaflet. Please make sure to pop the sticker on your wheeled general waste bin, not your food recycling caddy, as a friendly reminder for the future!

 

Please note, for residents living in Rochford and Epping Forest, separate food caddies are not provided for residents. Instead, food can be recycled using your mixed garden and food waste bins.

 

I already recycle my food, so why has a sticker been put on my bin?

We know that many residents already recycle their food, which is great.  All residents with a wheeled general rubbish bin and food recycling collection services have been delivered all three items. The sticker only aims to act as a friendly reminder to you and your neighbours.

 

Are the stickers recyclable?

Essex County Council endeavoured to secure a recyclable product, however, to ensure the sticker was weatherproof and sufficiently adhesive, the sticker is not recyclable. The leaflet, however, is printed on recycled paper and is recyclable.

 

The liners are too small for my outside recycling caddy

You will have received a 7L roll of liners. These liners are intended for use in your kitchen food recycling container and, when full, can be added to your outside caddy. If you don’t plan to use the liners, please pass on to a neighbour to encourage them to recycle their food.

Please note, for residents living in Rochford and Epping Forest, separate food caddies are not provided for residents. Instead, food can be recycled using your mixed garden and food waste bins. 

 

Will this be a regular delivery of caddy liners?

This is a one-off delivery intended to kick-start residents on their food recycling journeys. Some councils offer liners at a reduced price, or free, however, liners aren’t always necessary for your food recycling caddy. To find out more about how to make the most of your caddy, please visit your local council’s website in the list above.

Please note, for residents living in Rochford and Epping Forest, separate food caddies are not provided for residents. Instead, food can be recycled using your mixed garden and food waste bins. Visit your local council's website above to find out what you can and can't put in this bin.

 

Issues with a delivery 

Please inform Essex County Council who is working closely with the delivery service. They will make sure to feedback your comments to the team for a response. If you would like to make a formal complaint, please contact Essex County Council on https://www.essex.gov.uk/contact-us/complaints-and-compliments. Or if you would like to get in touch with Love Essex, visit our social media or, email us at Love.essex@essex.gov.uk

 

Your waste collection service: 

 

I have a sticker on my general rubbish bin, does this mean you will not take my rubbish?

Your local waste collection service will still collect your general rubbish on your designated days. The sticker was added to your wheeled bin, along with all other eligible households in Essex, to remind you and your neighbours to recycle your food instead of disposing of it in your general rubbish bin. This way it gets recycled into energy and fertiliser and is better for the environment! To find out more about recycling your food, please read the information provided above.

 

I don’t have a food caddy/ it’s broken

Please visit your local council’s website listed above which will include instructions about how to obtain a new food recycling caddy. Not all local councils offer both inside and outside caddies, however, you can use any container to collect your leftover food inside before you add it to your outside caddy. 

Please note, for residents living in Rochford and Epping Forest, separate food caddies are not provided for residents. Instead, food can be recycled using your mixed garden and food waste bins. If you do not have a mixed food and garden waste bin, please visit your local council's website above. 

 

I’m confused about what goes in each bin

Your leaflet will inform you of what you can and can’t put in your food recycling caddy. Your local council’s website in the list above will also inform you of what should be included in each of your bins.

Please note, for residents living in Rochford and Epping Forest, separate food caddies are not provided for residents. Instead, food can be recycled using your mixed garden and food waste bins. For a full list of what can and can't be put in these bins, please visit your local council's website above. 

 

Your location:

 

I received the delivery items, but I don’t live in a participating district.

Roll-out areas are listed above, apologies if you have received items for these areas. You will not be required to return any products. If you don’t have food recycling collection services, please pass onto someone who does. If you would like to make a formal complaint, please contact Essex County Council on https://www.essex.gov.uk/contact-us/complaints-and-compliments.

Find out more about food waste

Busting myths about food recycling

Fun facts about recycling food waste

Reduce your food waste at home