Slim My Waste – Feed My Face

The Slim My Waste – Feed My Face encouraged Bristol residents to put their food waste in the brown caddy instead of the black wheelie bin. Check out the next instalment of the campaign, ‘Stop Bin-digestion’.

The ‘Slim My Waste – Feed My Face’ campaign made a significant positive impact on food waste recycling across the city; saving money, generating power and helping the planet.

  • 16% increase in the amount of food waste collected in the month following the launch of the campaign.
  • 290.5 tonnes of additional food waste collected.
  • 174.3 tonnes of CO2e saved by diverting food waste from landfill (the equivalent to taking 55 cars off the road for a year).
  • Enough additional biogas created in one year to power an extra 180 households for a whole year.

A whopping 290.5 tonnes of additional food waste has been collected over the 10 weeks since the project rolled out across the city in June this year. That is equivalent to the weight of one and a half blue whales, or nearly 60 fully grown African elephants.

The playful campaign encouraged residents to recycle their food waste rather than binning it and reduce the amount of food going to waste in the first place. The results show that the campaign is really changing residents’ behaviours with a 16% increase in the amount of food waste collected in the month following its launch.

In Bristol, food waste is sent just up the road to a processor in Avonmouth, which turns it into gas and electricity to power Bristol, and fertiliser to grow crops. It’s also cheaper to process food waste this way – saving the city even more money.

Not only that, it’s greener too. As food waste degrades faster than other materials in landfill, and releases a high amount of methane, the extra 290.5 tonnes of food waste diverted is equal to 174.3 tonnes CO2e savings, or taking 55 cars off the road for a year. The extra biomethane produced each week as a result of the campaign is enough to power an addition 3.5 households for a year with green energy, or 180 homes with the amount produced in a year.

The campaign had a positive impact not only on Bristol’s participation in recycling food, but also increased interest in recycling in general. During the campaign Bristol Waste saw a 405% increase in requests for food waste bins as well as a 37% increase in requests for green recycling boxes, and a 43% increase in requests for black recycling boxes. They also saw a 15% decrease in refuse collected in the ten weeks since the campaign launched. That will help save the planet and money.

Gwen Frost, Development & Sustainability Manager at Bristol Waste said:

“When Bristol Waste discovered that the average Bristol black wheelie bin was nearly a quarter filled with food, with households wasting an average of £60 of food a month, we knew we had to do something about it.

“It’s fantastic to see this campaign really changing attitudes and behaviours across this city and the wonderful impact it is having; saving money, creating energy and helping the planet too. I am incredibly proud that we are helping take Bristol one step closer to becoming a zero-waste city and keeping it a clean, green, resourceful place to live.”

Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Waste and Recycling, said:

“I am really pleased that, following a successful pilot, this campaign has captured the imagination of the city and helped us to increase our recycling rates.

“I would like to thank all residents who have engaged with the campaign, and I hope this project will continue to be a success and help us reach our ambitious recycling targets over the coming years.

“Slim My Waste – Feed my Face has also been recognised by the wider waste industry, which shows that Bristol is coming up with innovative ideas to try and increase the levels of recycling in the city.”

Bristol Waste is predicting that the ‘Slim My Waste – Feed My Face’ campaign will continue to benefit Bristol environmentally as well as financially for years to come. In the next year, it is predicted to save the city tens of thousands of pounds and will continue to reduce harmful greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming, equivalent to taking 250 cars off the road for a year. The biogas created has the potential to power an extra 180 households for a whole year.

The ‘Slim My Waste – Feed My Face’ trial campaign picked up the coveted Campaign of the Year at the National Recycling Awards in London and has more recently been awarded Marketing Campaign of the Year at the South West Business Leader Awards and the Best Recycling Project (Public Sector) at the Waste2Zero Awards, where it was also first runner-up in Best Waste Project Communication & Stakeholder Engagement Award and Best Waste Management Project Award (Food) categories.

The campaign has also been shortlisted for a further two awards to date, including the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) Awards with winners to be announced next week.

Results from the Hartcliffe Trial

Initial findings are in from our food waste trial Slim My Waste – Feed My Face run in Hartcliffe throughout October and they show high levels of engagement and encouraging results.

Our highly visual Slim My Waste – Feed My Face campaign was aimed at diverting food waste from residents’ black refuse bins and encouraging them to use their brown food waste caddies. It’s important for us as Bristol’s food waste generates energy for our city.

We gave out nearly 1000 new brown food caddies during the campaign.

10.5 tonnes of food waste was collected in the month before the trial compared to 19.6 tonnes collected in the month after the trial. That’s a staggering 87% increase and could be used to charge an IPad over 75000 times.

Our findings show that comparing the month before the trial with that after, there has been a 9% increase in households using brown food caddies and a 10% decrease of general waste in wheelie bins.

Tracey Morgan, Managing Director of Bristol Waste said:

“We are very encouraged by the findings of our ‘Slim My Waste’ campaign. We will continue to monitor activity in the area but results clearly indicate a sizeable uplift of food waste collected at the kerbside. This might mean rolling elements of ‘Slim My Waste’ out in other parts of the city. We’d like to thank the residents of Hartcliffe for all their efforts and hope the great work continues.”

We selected this area of Bristol to test the idea that by playfully putting the black bins on a ‘no-food diet’ (Slim My Waste) and getting residents to engage with their caddies, by personalising them with stickers (Feed My Face), it would bring more awareness about the issue of food waste.

Putting a highly visible ‘Slim My Waste’ tape measure around all the wheelie bins caused quite a stir in the area, but initial findings from the campaign indicated it was having a positive impact.

As well as the tape measure stickers, the campaign used social media, presence in a local supermarket, household leaflet drops and educational workshops and assemblies in the local school.

Project partners GENeco, a multi-award winning recycling and renewable energy company who process Bristol’s food waste, provided a tour and information on what happens to our waste to interested residents.

Richard McCluskey, Solid Bioresources Manager at GENeco said:

“It’s great to see so many households recycling their food waste. By doing so, residents are recycling their waste in the most sustainable way and actually creating renewable energy that can power homes and even power transport.”

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.