Trading Standards Institute Advice

Food and waste disposal

This leaflet is for all food businesses, including those involved in catering, food production, food preparation, retail premises, restaurants, pubs, cafes, and fast-food shops.

What is food waste?
Waste is produced as soon as a product is delivered to you. Things such as cardboard, metal securing bands, and plastic and foam packaging can take up a lot of space, even when boxes are broken down and folded.

Discarded packaging materials kept in areas where you prepare or store food can increase the chances of food being contaminated by a build up of rubbish. Tins and other packaging you throw away will have bits of food in them and may smell bad and attract flies and other pests.

There will be some food waste whenever you prepare food and you should make sure your staff keep to a 'clean as you go' routine.

Because of the problems it can cause, when you are starting your business you should plan how you will store and get rid of food waste, and this should be included in a food safety management system.

Storing food waste
You should always use a bin liner in your kitchen bins. You should also make sure you don't overfill them so they don't spill when they are emptied, and make sure that they are not too heavy to carry or split because they have too much rubbish in them.

If you have a cafe, restaurant or pub, the wash-up section will have lots of paper, cardboard and plastic from packaging, as well as bottles and cans. You will need somewhere to keep these before you can take them outside to the waste storage.

You should keep food waste separate from other waste and keep all the different parts of your other waste separate for recycling.

You should get rid of waste from areas where you prepare or store food as often as you can. If you can't get to your outside bins easily, you should keep waste in secured polythene bags. You should not keep waste inside overnight for general hygiene and safety, and so that it does not attract pests.

Waste storage areas
You should get rid of all stored junk - for example, old fridges, building materials and pallets that you keep in your waste-storage area as they may stop you cleaning it properly and you may end up with pests living in them. You need a well planned cleaning schedule to make sure your waste-storage areas are regularly cleaned. If you keep to a 'clean as you go' policy, you will make sure any spillage of food waste or liquid is cleaned up straightaway.

Keeping waste outside
You should keep outside waste containers on a hard-standing, easy-to-clean surface, away from the building. This will help keep pests away. There should always be enough storage space to keep all waste under a closed fitted lid.

A bin bag is easy for a rat or mouse to get into, so you should have enough storage space so that there are no bags left to the side, behind or in front of your waste bin. Also make sure that the bin is not so full that the lid does not close properly.

Waste collections
You will need your food waste collected regularly and often. Your other waste must be collected before the storage space has been filled and the bins are overflowing.

If you can't have your rubbish collected often enough, you may need more waste containers with lids to store your extra rubbish in, or it may be cheaper to use a compactor. A compactor flattens waste and can reduce the number of flies and other pests that may be attracted to it. Compactors come in different sizes but, before you buy one, you should check whether you will have to make special arrangements to have your rubbish collected.

Getting rid of food waste
It is the responsibility of the food 'business operator' (often this is the owner) or manager to do everything you can to keep waste secure and make sure you get rid of it properly.

In general, catering waste may go to licensed landfill sites, but composting, and approved composting plants, are becoming more popular.

Reducing your waste will reduce your costs. Recycling may also reduce business costs but most unsold or waste foods must not be fed to livestock as uncooked food can spread serious animal diseases.

If you have a manufacturing or food-distribution business - which includes sandwich manufacturers, retail shops, supermarkets, cash and carry outlets, butchers and bakers - you should check with your local authority how your waste should be disposed of. Some food products may need to be collected by a licensed waste collection service.

You must not get rid of waste cooking oil with other waste. Waste cooking oil must:

  • be stored securely so none is allowed to spill
  • not be poured down drains or sewers (if you get rid of it in this way you may be prosecuted as it can lead to blockages, pest problems and may harm wildlife)
  • be collected by a licensed special waste collector

Preparing hot food
Building regulations now mean that all new buildings and refurbishments of food premises that prepare hot food must have an effective way of getting rid of the grease that may build up in the drainage system.

Grease traps reduce the amount of fat and oil that gets into the sewers. The traps can be put above or below ground, inside the kitchen or outside of the building. You must empty and clean them regularly depending on your business and the size and type of grease trap.

More information
You will find further guidance in our other leaflets on this website. Information can also be found on the Food Standards Agency (opens in a new window) website.

Alternatively, contact your local environmental health service for advice.

Please note
This leaflet is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended only for guidance.

© 2017 itsa Ltd.