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Commercial Food Waste

Food businesses are now required to separately collect their food waste. This page outlines if you are obligated and the actions you will need to take.

Are you a food business? You operate a food business if you carry out activities related to the processing, distribution, preparation or sale of food.

Food Businesses include:

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Shopping centre food courts
  • Canteens
  • Hotels
  • Public Houses that serve food
  • Shops that sell food
  • Supermarkets
  • Schools & colleges with canteens
  • Prisons
  • Nursing Homes
  • Hospitals
Do you produce food waste?

Waste food, is food that was at any time intended for human consumption (even if of no nutritional value). This includes waste produced from the processing or preparation of food but, does not include drink.

What should you do?
  • You must collect your food waste and not contaminate it with non-food waste items.
  • You must ensure that food waste containers are clearly labelled and easily accessible for your staff.
  • You must ensure that all your staff are trained to use internal and external waste segregation systems effectively.
  • You must present food waste correctly for collection, in accordance with your food waste collectors’ instructions.
  • You should normally remove the packaging from your food waste. Packaging may only be retained, if agreed with your food waste collector. The collectors’ position will be based on the de-packaging capability of the treatment facility they utilise.
  • You must obtain evidence from your collector (a copy of their waste carriers licence) that they are a current registered carrier with NIEA.
  • You must have waste transfer notes for all food waste removed from your premises and you must retain these for two years. All waste must be appropriately described with the correct EWC Code.
  • You must only transfer your food waste to an appropriately authorised waste management facility. You should obtain a copy of the receiving sites’ authorisation (PPC Permit, Waste Management Licence, Waste Management Exemption) and where required their current working plan, to confirm they have the EWC Codes to accept food waste. 2
What should you not do?
  • You must not mix food waste with any other waste that you produce.
  • You must not deposit food waste in a lateral drain or public sewer.

Please note:  Food waste dewatering systems which for example use a process such as an Archimedes screw or a centrifuge to reduce the volume of the material, while retaining the food waste for collection, meet the objective of not depositing food waste in a lateral drain or sewer. Please note the dewatering equipment must be configured, operated and maintained, to ensure that the capture of food waste is maximised.

The removed and discharged water is regarded as grey water and maybe disposed to drain, with the appropriate consents, where necessary, from NI Water. Any system that handles food waste but, does not maximise its retention for collection, is not acceptable.


Could you be exempt?

In Northern Ireland, if your food business produces less than 5kg of food waste per week, there is no legislative requirement to collect it separately. However, there is no issue if you still decide to collect your food waste. 

Enforcement Guide For Those Producing Food Waste
  • You will be committing an offence, if you give food waste to an unregistered waste carrier. 
  • You will be committing an offence, if you do not have valid waste transfer notes for the movement of food waste. 
  • You will be committing an offence, if you transport food waste and you are not registered with NIEA to do so. 
  • You will be committing an offence, if you transport food waste and do not have a complete waste transfer note with you.
Useful Links:
WRAP - Taking action on waste information sheets
WRAP - Reducing Food Waste : Starting off
WRAP - Food Waste Prevention
DAERA NI  - Waste Management (Duty of Care - A Code of Practice)
The Food Waste Regulations NI 2015

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