Contamination – what’s the big deal?
Contamination is a widespread issue in the recycling industry and has become more prevalent with the increase in recycling of different waste streams. Its implications are widespread and involve the general public, any business producing waste and also waste companies operating in the industry. Read our guide below about why it could affect you, why it’s important and what can be done to prevent it.
What is contamination?
Simply put, it’s the wrong material in the wrong bin. For food waste recycling this counts as material which can’t be broken down either in the composting process or through anaerobic digestion (AD). This includes any non-organic item like plastic bottles, tin cans, sweet wrappers and glass.
Why is it an issue?
From a composting perspective it affects the ability to compost that particular load. The contaminant materials like glass or plastic are also no longer available to be recycled elsewhere because they are sent to landfill.
For food waste which is sent to AD the contaminants interfere with the digestion process and can also cause significant operational issues for internal components.
Whilst some material can be removed after it has been collected either by hand or mechanical de-packaging units, it is a less than perfect solution. For example, glass or sharp metal can pose a safety risk to workers. The end result is a decrease in overall recycling rates and an increase in the amount of waste being sent to landfill.
How does it affect you?
The process of removing contaminants either by physical or mechanical means takes time and money. Ultimately, this is a cost which gets passed onto customers like restaurants or cafes. The indirect cost is in the form of the environmental burden through higher landfill disposal contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating climate change.
How can you prevent it?
The simplest and most effective solution is to prevent it happening in the first place:
- Understand the benefits of recycling correctly for your business
- Use best practice for managing staff in a commercial kitchen coding systems
- Understand the importance of good communication in making sure the right material goes in the right bin
Get in touch if you need any advice on reducing contamination in your food waste bin: firstname.lastname@example.org | 0800 644 6619