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Opening schools for one day wasted £30 million of dinners


Opening schools for one day wasted £30 million of dinners

The Government’s decision to return to national lockdown after allowing primary schools to open for just one day in January has generated a year’s food waste.

An estimated 15 million pre-ordered school dinners went to waste because of the last-minute change of plans.

Around three million school dinners are served each day, at the cost of £2 each, with schools typically ordering meals a week in advance.

The sudden closure means that £30 million worth of “perfectly good although ultimately perishable food” went to waste.

National waste collections company collected the uneaten meals.

Director Mark Hall said: “If schools had been given a warning, then it could have been sent to other places. Now food banks will be overwhelmed.

“Primary schools – which all provide free dinners – know how many meals per day they need to make, so food waste is usually shallow.”

He calculated that the discarded food amounted to “over a year’s waste per school, all at once – or £30 million of school dinners in the bin”.

Dedicated food waste bins could have diverted the discarded meals to an anaerobic digestion plant rather than to landfill, Mr Hall suggested.

Food processed at an anaerobic digestion plant is recycled into biogas, which can be used to generate heat and electricity, or as fuel.

In October last year, revealed that schools generate 80,382 tonnes of food waste in a single academic year, almost half of which is fruit and vegetables.

A detailed study from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) last year showed that UK households still waste 4.5m tonnes of food a year that could have been eaten, at the cost of £14bn.

This amounts to £700 for an average family with children. Although household food waste has fallen by 6%, from 7.1m tonnes to 6.6m tonnes over three years – the volume of food still wasted equates to 10bn edible meals.

Household food waste represents 70% of all food waste triggered after the food has been grown or produced, with potatoes the most wasted food.

Hiring a skip wouldn't be the most efficient way of recycling food waste, so we wouldn't recommend that you hire a skip for this. For other types of waste, you can book skip hire in SheffieldChesterfieldRotherhamBarnsleyWorksop or Doncaster through Fletchers Waste by calling 0114 493 8092, or you can use our online system to book online.