Food caddy bags – it’s a mystery…

When I find something that doesn’t make sense, I wonder if I am the only person who thinks this way. See what you think…

I have found out recently that something most of us do in good faith is a) a complete waste of money and b) contributing to landfill mass that I thought we didn’t do in East Devon any more.

Having had a great visit to the Energy from Waste (EFW) plant back in April 2018, (see post here), I have been reasonably confident that the waste I put in my general bin is dealt with in the best way. While still trying to consciously reduce all waste in our house, we recycle avidly, never buy needless plastic, campaign relentlessly against non-recyclable film etc, and put all our food waste into these, £2.75 for 22 bags, for it to be collected to go to the Anaerobic Digester (see here)

and there’s a cute video here – but it’s missing one fact…the bags – ALL the bags – get removed from the waste before it goes to the anaerobic digester. THAT INCLUDES THE COMPOSTABLE CADDY LINERS. In fact, these are even worse for the machines that do the separating than normal plastic bags as they get caught in the mechanism.

Then guess what happens to all the bags that are removed?

Wait for it…

THEY GO IN LANDFILL! NOT THE ENERGY FOR WASTE PLANT EVEN! So the advice from EDDC is not to bother with compostable bags – and they are saying to use normal plastic carrier bags or line your caddy with newspaper.

Was anyone aware of this? It was news to me. And I think to many others – and the council are giving out very mixed messages: On recycledevon.org it says:

Blue Food Caddy
Food waste – cooked and uncooked food, meat and fish, bones, fruit and vegetables, cat and dog food, plate scrapings and tea and coffee grounds.

Please use compostable bags or line your caddy with newspaper/kitchen towel.

Australian Website 1 Million Women has a post about this here.

And there are some interesting statistics about plastic in landfill here.

In my opinion we should at the very least be bringing back the plastic bags to our EfW from the Anaerobic Digestor (Cannington near Bridgwater) as it seems very wrong to dump our plastic in Somerset’s landfill. This ties in with my belief that we cannot absolve ourselves of responsibility just because the waste has left EDDC’s borders.

Another suggestion (thanks Val) has been to keep a lidded box in your freezer, chuck your food waste in there, and put out the frozen lump for collection, thereby not needing anything around it.

My favourite personal thought is that we should be actively pushed to use home composting (the council no longer actively push this or sell compost bins at cost to residents 🙁 )  but where that isn’t possible we should have community compost areas that are managed, and have a ‘help yourself’ message on the compost that is ready. Thinking of where I live for example, a community fenced area with 3 compost bins inside, 1 active, 1 last year’s, and 1 ready to go from 2 years ago, might be a perfect solution. This saves us transporting all our waste to the next county then buying compost for gardening in plastic bags that has come from who knows where. Yes it would take some setting up, and it might even need a local resident to be ‘in charge’ of it, but is this a good way to go?

Is this in conflict with the council’s green waste scheme? Possibly. The green waste collection is a great success but of course it still involves a carbon footprint in taking away waste, although it stays in East Devon to be used on local farms. Does grass need to be taken away though? Leaving grass cuttings is actually meant to be healthier for the ground, restoring nutrients (“Not only does it make caring for your lawn easier, but grasscycling can also reduce your mowing time by 50% because you don’t have to pick up afterwards. Leaving clippings on the lawn also slows water loss through evaporation and reduces the needs for fertilization” – see full post here)

Let me know what you think.

Dx

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