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Mission Compostable: Cambridge BID launches new public bins to help cut emissions



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Cambridge is on a mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city. It is estimated that emissions from composting food waste are just 14% compared to sending it to landfill. This fact led Cambridge BID, in partnership with Countrystyle Recycling and Envar, to introduce four new public bins for food scraps and compostable packaging. The bins are close to food retailers using verified compostable products, so customers getting takeaways can dispose of waste in the most eco-friendly way.

Scan the QR code on your phone to find the bins
Scan the QR code on your phone to find the bins

A closed loop solution for Cambridge

Countrystyle Recycling will collect waste using one of Countrystyle’s dedicated food waste trucks or dual pod vehicles, specially designed to reduce the carbon footprint of collections. The waste is taken the short distance to Envar’s flagship in-vessel composting site at St Ives, Cambridgeshire. Here their composting process will turn the waste into a soil conditioner for the agricultural, viticultural and horticultural markets where it will be used to help grow more food.

The composting process
The composting process

Find the new, bright green bins (labelled ‘Food waste & Compostable Packaging‘) at:

  • Quayside (next to Scudamore’s punting station)
  • Free School Lane (outside Smokeworks)
  • Peas Hill (near the picnic tables)
  • King’s Parade (opposite Benets café)
Bin location - King's Parade
Bin location - King's Parade
Bin location - Quayside 2
Bin location - Quayside 2

Need to know:

Bridges in Bridge Street
Bridges in Bridge Street

  • Bins are for public use, not business waste.
  • Bins are offered alongside general waste and recycling options, so people can make the appropriate choice.
  • The service is funded and delivered by Cambridge BID, with the support of Cambridge City Council.
  • Countrystyle Recycling and Envar are the suppliers contracted for collecting and composting the waste. Countrystyle Recycling also offer commercial collections in Cambridge.
  • The service will be reviewed in March 2022, to assess impact and feedback from business owners and customers.
Smokeworks, Free School Lane
Smokeworks, Free School Lane

As this brand new service is rolled out, it is likely some non-compostable items may end up in the bins through human error. Partners are prepared to manage a level of contamination during processing. To reduce risk, Cambridge BID is engaging retailers to promote the new bins and help their customers understand the service, and to educate the general public about what can and cannot be composted.

What can go in the bins?

  • All food scraps.
  • Compostable packaging (e.g. coffee cups, food cartons, cutlery) which will be labelled – if in doubt, check with the retailer you bought it from, or throw in the litter bin to avoid contamination.

Which Cambridge retailers are using compostables?

Cambridge BID keeps an up-to-date list of takeaways using compostable packaging on their website: cambridgebid.co.uk/mission-compostable

If you should be included, or if your business wants support to make the switch, email Jenny.Granshaw@cambridgebid.co.uk

A few examples of retailers selling their tasty treats in compostable containers…

Fitzbillies
Fitzbillies
  • Bread & Meat serves up mouth-watering gourmet sandwiches, poutines and bowls. Their menu is full of choice local ingredients and 100% British meats. Your sandwich wrappers, food boxes and cutlery can all be composted in the new compostable bins
  • Jack’s Gelato is a delicious Cambridge treat, year-round. Jack and his team strive for minimal waste – ice cream in an edible cone that needs no packaging! Also, their ice-cream cups, hot drinks cups, and bamboo spoons can all be composted in the new city bins.
  • Nanna Mexico makes street food-style burritos and bowls to authentic Mexican recipes. They champion local, sustainable food, and are keen to minimise environmental impact. Nanna Mexico has used Vegware since 2014 and are excited that this can now be effectively composted.
  • Smokeworks is famous for their delicious BBQ menu, and fast food for the discerning customer. All Smokeworks takeaway packaging can be safely composted in our city bins, and will be turned into compost for a new lease of life.
Jack's Gelato
Jack's Gelato
Smokeworks
Smokeworks

Jenny Granshaw, Project Manager at Cambridge BID, says: “We’re keen to find practical solutions to help Cambridge respond to the climate crisis. Single-use products are a big concern for waste and emissions, but are a necessity for food retailers. We realised some businesses use compostable packaging, which will biodegrade in a commercial in-vessel composting facility, but not in landfill. By offering a public collection for compostable packaging, we can strengthen the impact of businesses trying their best to reduce their environmental impact.”

Jack’s Gelato, Bene't Street
Jack’s Gelato, Bene't Street

Chris Howard, Managing Director of Countrystyle Recycling, says: “Compostable packaging and food waste, must be collected and processed in a particular way to ensure the maximum environmental benefit. Countrystyle Recycling has invested in a fleet of dedicated food waste and dual pod vehicles for the collection of food waste and compostable packaging. These specially designed vehicles reduce the carbon footprint of collections. We are proud to be able to offer this dedicated collection service to enable the composting of this compostable waste.”

Bin location - Quayside
Bin location - Quayside

Andy Sibley, Managing Director of Envar Composting Ltd, says: “These new bins provide a much-needed solution for recycling compostable food packaging and food waste in the city centre. As more businesses use compostable packaging we hope to see a reduction in the use of single use plastics and help to improve the health of our planet. Envar is in the unique position to be able to process compostable packaging through our innovative in-vessel composting system. The compost we produce can be used to nourish soil with a slow release of vital nutrients needed for healthy growth.”

A Cambridge BID infographic
A Cambridge BID infographic

Trevor Heathcote, Chairman of Heathcote Holdings, says: “As part of Heathcote Holdings, Countrystyle Recycling and Envar are passionate about sustainable recycling. We are delighted to be taking part in this project and providing the residents of Cambridge with a solution for the recycling of their compostable packaging. The two companies operate in harmonious synergy, providing a complete, closed-loop alternative for food waste and compostable packaging, driving the circular economy for businesses across Cambridgeshire.”



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