Food waste recycling and collections

Food waste collections are undertaken by your local district, city or borough councils. We are responsible for the recycling and processing of the separately collected food waste.

You can order a new or replacement food bin or caddy from your local council.

View our frequently asked questions below:

When is it collected?

Check with your local district, city or borough council’s website in order to find out what day your food waste is collected.

What are the benefits of sending food waste to anaerobic digestion plant (where food waste is treated)?

It is better for our environment. Creating renewable energy – anaerobic digestion is one way of recycling food waste and makes fertiliser, electricity and heat.

Saving resources – it takes a huge amount of energy and water to grow food and even more resources such as fuel to transport the food to supermarkets across the country. Throwing away food means that we have wasted all of this effort and resource.

I want to start composting at home, how do I do this?

Uncooked food waste, such as fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags and coffee grounds etc can be composted at home. For a step-by-step guide visit Recycle Devon.

I want to start composting at our school, how do I do this?

Please visit The Zone for further information on food waste and composting for schools.

What can I put in my caddy?

Yes please

Any cooked or uncooked food waste such as:

  • fish, meat and bones (raw or cooked)
  • dairy produce (such as cheese, yoghurt, eggs)
  • hard fats and lard
  • tea bags and coffee grounds
  • fruit and vegetable peelings
  • cereals
  • bread and pastries
  • rice and pasta
  • stale and out of date foods (including ‘ready meals’, please remove packaging)
  • uneaten pet food
  • plate scrapings and lunchbox leftovers

No thanks:

  • any packaging, pots, punnets or plastic film (except for lining the inside of your caddy)
  • compostable packaging
  • cardboard
  • paper (except for newspaper which can line your caddy)
  • liquids e.g. oils, fats, milk
  • dead animals
  • garden waste
  • animal bedding/litter
  • animal/pet faeces

How does it work?

Keep a caddy in your kitchen where you can easily collect and store your food waste (these are supplied by your district, city or borough council).

When it’s full, just transfer the food waste to your outside food waste bin. Make sure you lock the lid to keep out pests and keep in any unpleasant odours.

How can I line my bin/caddy?

Residents should choose whatever method works best for them. All liners/bags are removed at the processing facility before the food waste is treated and converted into energy via an energy from waste plant.

You can line your bin/caddy with any of the following:

  • bags that food has come in, e.g. bread bags, salad bags, cereal bags large crisp bags etc
  • carrier bags (not ‘bags for life’)
  • thin plastic bags, e.g. fridge and freezer storage bags that are not longer fit for use
  • plastic bags bought on a roll, e.g. pedal bin liners (although reusing an existing bag is best)
  • compostable bags
  • newspaper

Please do not use:

  • black bin liners
  • rubble sacks
  • hard plastic packaging (punnets trays etc)

Will using my food waste caddy attract unwanted pests?

There are some simple steps you can take to avoid unwanted pests:

  • empty your kitchen caddy into your outside food waste bin regularly and make sure the lid is locked using the handle – it keeps smells in and means vermin cannot get to your food
  • keep food covered and keep your kitchen caddy lid shut at all times to prevent flies from getting to your food waste where they could lay eggs
  • place your food waste out for collection each week.

What happens to the food waste?

The majority of collected food waste in Devon is sent to an Anaerobic Digestion plant where it is treated:

  • at the plant any bin/caddy liners will be removed and recycled if possible or converted into energy via an energy from waste plant
  • the food waste is mixed and pulped to create a thick liquid which is then pasteurised (heated) to kill any harmful bacteria
  • as the food waste breaks down it produces biogas (a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide) which is extracted and used to generate electricity which is then fed into the national grid
  • once the gas has been removed a liquid food fertiliser (known as ‘digestate’) remains which can be used on local farmland
  • digestate is high in valuable nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements required for healthy plant growth and fertile soil

Why should I not place compostable packaging into my food waste bin?

Compostable packaging should not be placed into your food caddy as it is not suitable for the treatment process and will not break down. We would advise checking with the manufacturer if the packaging is suitable for home composting or place such items into your general waste bin.