Food Waste FAQ

Your Bristol food waste questions answered.

Bristol’s food waste is collected by our recycling crews and taken to GENeco in Avonmouth. The plastic and compostable bags you use to line your caddy are removed and used to produce energy. The food waste is put into an ‘anaerobic digester’ – a bit of kit which acts like a giant stomach – and turned into methane-rich biogas. This biogas is used to generate more energy and the solid by-product of the anaerobic process is used as fertiliser for farms. In total, recycled food waste creates enough energy for around 9000 homes in Bristol each year!

1. Keep your smaller caddy in an accessible place in the kitchen (the cupboard under the sink is ideal)
2. Line the caddy with newspaper, a compostable liner or a plastic bag to keep it clean.
3. Put all your food waste into the caddy.
4. When it’s full, or just before collection day, empty the caddy into the larger food waste bin that you can keep outdoors.
5. Place the large food waste bin out for collection every week at the kerbside with your black and green boxes. By doing this you are helping to generate gas and electricity for Bristol residents, as well as saving money for the city.

The food caddy is smaller and can be kept in your kitchen for easy access, it’s ideal for collecting food waste as it happens – pop all those peelings, scraps and leftovers straight in! When the caddy is full up you can transfer the contents to the larger food bin. The food bin is designed to be kept outside and is the one you put out for collection day.

It’s up to you whether you use both the food caddy and the food bin, or just the bin. The important thing is that your food waste doesn’t end up in the general wheelie bin.

Using the smaller kitchen caddy means that some food waste is kept inside your home, it’s more hygienic than putting food waste in a general-purpose kitchen bin, but if you’re worried about smells you could skip the food caddy and put all your food waste to the larger outdoor food bin.

If you choose to do this, be sure to use the locking handle and keep the bin in a place where animals will have a hard time getting to it.

There are lots of things you can use to line your caddy to keep it a bit cleaner. You can buy special compostable bags for this purpose but a folded newspaper, empty cereal box liner, a bread bag (plastic or paper) or an old plastic carrier bag will work just as well.

The bags will be removed by the sorting system before the food waste is recycled, but please don’t include any food packaging, compostable or otherwise.

It’s always a good idea to give the caddy a quick clean after emptying it and rinse the bin after collections, especially if you choose not to use a liner.

Compostable bags are not required in order to recycle your food. GENeco (the company that recycles Bristol’s food waste) separates any plastic from the food before it enters the anaerobic digester, including compostable bags.

All kinds of food waste! This includes all cooked or uncooked food, unavoidable food waste such as coffee grounds or eggshells, plate scrapings, meat and dairy products. For full details on what can go into the food waste bin, download our guide to recycling at home.

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Recycling at home guide
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As far as possible, please only use the food bin for food waste and tea bags. Please remove all packaging, whether paper, plastic, cardboard or compostable materials, before putting food into your brown caddy or bin. Small amounts of kitchen roll or napkin tissue are acceptable but the correct way to dispose of these is in the refuse bin.

It’s fine to add tea bags into your food waste because the plastic used to seal teabags is such a low amount that it does not have an impact on the anaerobic digestion process. It’s even better if you can use loose leaf tea or plastic-free tea bags.

General household waste, compostable packaging, cardboard and garden waste are examples of what shouldn’t go into your food waste bin.

We love the fact that more and more Bristolians are getting into composting. It’s a great alternative and will help create a nutrient-rich fertiliser for your garden. You can purchase a home composter from Bristol City Council and start turning all your uncooked food scraps (such as eggshells, coffee grinds and vegetable peelings) into compost for your plants!

Most compost bins are not suitable for meat and dairy products and some cooked foods, but all of this can be put into your food waste caddy. If you already compost, see your food waste bin as a supplement rather than a replacement to your composting.

Bristol Waste does not collect compost from residential properties, so it’s a good idea to know what you’ll do with it before you start composting.

It’s really important to recycle all our unavoidable food waste. Bristol’s food waste is processed by an ‘anaerobic digester’ at GENeco in Avonmouth. The food waste is broken down to produce methane which is then burnt to produce electricity and gas for the area. Recycling is taken to our transfer station to be baled up and sent on to reprocessors within the UK. General waste, on the other hand, is either sent for further processing or to landfill.

Wildlife can be attracted to food waste bins due to the smell. The handle of the large food bin can be locked by pulling straight upwards. By locking the food bin, animals should not be able to get to the food.

There is no getting around it – food waste can get smelly sometimes. Using your brown food waste bin should help keep any smells to a minimum since it is collected each week, and is actually more hygienic than putting it in your general waste bin.

Smells happen when food is left too long and it starts to decompose (rot). This is more likely to happen to food in the general waste bin which is collected fortnightly. By recycling, you get rid of the food waste faster so there is less chance of it developing a smell. (We can’t help you with the garlic or stinky cheese, though, sorry!)

There is no doubt that children like to enjoy their food with all their senses, and sometimes that means more food ends up on the floor than in their mouths. All that matters is that when that slice of toast gets thrown from their highchair, or a half-eaten apple is abandoned it gets put into your brown food bin rather than the general waste.

Recycling food waste is important because when food or any other biodegradable waste breaks down it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The methane produced from waste rotting in a landfill is released straight into the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change causing gases in the atmosphere.

Food sent for recycling breaks down in an anaerobic digester, which is a piece of kit that acts like a giant stomach. The methane released is captured and burnt to produce electricity. Recycling your food not only stops the methane from entering the atmosphere, but it also becomes a source of energy for the city.

Compostable liners aren’t required, you can use your spare plastic bags or even an empty bread bag. Out of bags? Newspaper is a great alternative, or go liner-free and give your caddie a quick rinse once it’s emptied.

Not all blocks of flats and properties with a mini recycling centre currently have food waste bins. We will be working with landlords and management companies to review this in the near future with the aim to provide all Bristol residents access to a food waste recycling service.

Absolutely! Our business team would be more than happy to chat with you about your food waste and recycling needs, give us a call on 0800 061 4321.