This evening, my local council phoned me out of the blue to follow up on my email enquiry regarding household food waste management. Southwark council currently doesn’t provide any help to local residents to manage their food waste. Basically all of our food waste currently goes to landfill.

Unfortunately the lady on the phone simply told me that the council is not able to help with food waste. She added that the fact that we have a recycling bin in our building (as well as communal recycling bins around the area) is already futuristic and good enough. In addition she also told me that the council will not help even in future about the food waste especially around where we live as there are lots of flats and it is all far too complicated to do anything about it. She did add that the council once tried some years ago to pilot a scheme to collect food waste within a flat complex in one area consisting of four blocks of flats, but the food waste bins got contaminated and failed the study. 

I was really surprised to hear what she said. I asked if it was ok for me to see the report of the pilot scheme, but she told me that it would be difficult for her to email me (aka “no”). Recycling bins are very common so I disagreed with what she said about the fact that Southwark is futuristic for recycing. When I asked the lady about the anaerobic digestion system she didn’t know what it was. We can reduce the cost of our council tax if the council utilises anaerobic digestion system, and I have seen a blog post by James Barber and he was already talking about it in 2012. But our neighbouring Westminster council already collects all food waste and sends them to an anaerobic digestion system!

Southwark council does have subsidised composting bins like many other councils. But for those who live in flats, composting bins and wormeries are absolutely impractical. They do subsidise bokashi bins but there is no information on it on their website. 

We have so many flats, restaurants and cafes around us and I am increasingly concerned that food waste management is not being considered more seriously by our local council. 

From my point of view and for food waste management, this is what we need:

  • Southwark council to start utilising the Anaerobic digestion system to manage food waste.
  • Various open spaces and gardens to have communal composting systems (not just the cheapest – and impractical -compost bin but a proper one that is easy to use and one people can throw most of the food in).
  • More education and information should be provided by the council regarding food waste especially for those flat dwellers.
  • The council to work on food waste management for flats within a new pilot scheme. People have become more aware of such shames which should result in a more successful implementation. 
  • The council should decidcate more allotments as there is a long waiting list.

Over the course of the next few months I will be emailing some more people who may be able to help (maybe the odd celebrity or too!) and let’s see if I can make a difference! 


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