Peterborough City Council has said caddy liners for the ‘Hungry Harry’ food bins are now available after they were out of stock for a month – and have explained why the bags supplied to residents are not biodegradable.
Last month Aragon Direct, who operate bin collection services for the council in Peterborough, said the bags were currently out of stock – and encouraged residents to use any small bag in the caddies.
The food waste is used to provide electricity for the city, and is also turned into fertiliser.
Today, the council has confirmed the bags are back in stock and being delivered to residents – and explained why ‘any’ small bags could be used to put food waste in, rather than specific, compostable bags.
Compostable bags were not breaking down
A spokesperson for the city council said: “The bags are currently available and are being distributed from yesterday (August 2).
"We now use the standard plastic liners; this is based on feedback from the Anaerobic Digestion (AD) treatment operator who found the compostable/biodegradable bags were not breaking down completely where Peterborough’s food waste is treated.
To breakdown the compostable/biodegradable liners, they need air and light, and the AD process is in the dark without air so they simply can’t process the bags.
“This slowed down the process and made it more expensive as the bags were having to be removed post treatment where it was possible.
“The bags are not removed individually but equipment is used to remove this packaging in the process.
“There are many benefits of processing the food through an AD facility as the process generates electricity to power homes and the local community, as well as producing a fertiliser which can be used in farming to enrich the soil.
“We provide the bags free of charge on request.”
Food waste collection saves £500,000 per year
Residents have also been told they do not have to use bags in their caddies if. The council spokesperson said: “If residents do not wish to use bags, they can use newspaper or kitchen paper to wrap any food waste. Alternatively, they can place any food waste directly into the caddy.
“It is really important we ensure the food is treated in the most environmentally favourable option, the AD process produces renewable electricity and nutrient rich fertiliser.
“There is a significant economic benefit in placing food in the caddy, the difference in cost per tonne for food waste and residual waste in the black bin is significant, for example if all the food waste currently collected via the food waste collection was placed in the black bin instead it would cost over £500,000 more per year to process."
A Peterborough City Council spokesperson said that once the bags are removed from the process, they are used elsewhere in the energy recovery process, rather than being sent to landfil.
For more information about bin collections and how to order caddy liners, visit https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/residents/rubbish-and-recycling