Complying with food safety and legal requirements - SME food waste recycling guidance

Food waste recycling for your business

Recycling your food waste is easier than you think!

Complying with food safety and legal requirements

Food hygiene

Make sure that the process you decide on for food waste separation is consistent with your food safety management system (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point HACCP); if your HACCP says all bins have foot operated pedals then make sure that this is the case.

The Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) system in England and Wales states that bins should have close fitting lids to deter pests. If you do anything different to this make sure that you state this in the safe method "How do you do this?" column. Check with your local environmental health team for requirements in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

If you produce raw meat and egg waste, make sure this is done away from any ready to eat food preparation areas to prevent inadvertent splashes that could cause cross contamination.

Waste food should not be allowed to build up in the kitchen so should be removed as often as possible; always make sure that hands are thoroughly washed in the wash hand basin after handling waste food or waste bins.

Handling food waste should not be any different to handling your rubbish so should not adversely affect your food hygiene rating. Any queries in relation to food safety should be directed either to the Environmental Health team at your Local Authority or to the Food Standards Agency.

Health and Safety

As with any activity in the kitchen a risk assessment should be carried out in relation to waste handling as bags and bins can be heavy and bulky.

There are no set weight limits, however, you must consider a number of factors to determine what is suitable e.g. the size and shape of the item, who is moving the waste, the environment, and how far the item is to be carried. To reduce the risk of injury you could limit the size of bins or bags used, use wheeled bins where possible or provide a suitable trolley.

HSE leaflet on lifting and handling aids

HSE Manual Handling frequently asked questions

Slips and trips are a significant cause of injuries in the kitchen so make sure that containers or bags do not leak and be aware of splashes or spills around the bins.

HSE page on slips and trips in the hospitality industry

Environmental control

Waste collection can be a noisy activity and can generate odours, particularly in warm months. Negotiate a collection time that fits in with your location, that does not disturb neighbours, guests or visitors to nearby attractions. If bins have to be presented at the kerbside for collection, do not put them out too early and try to keep them out of the way of pedestrians. Keep lids on external bins at all times and maintain them in a clean condition. Prevent waste food and food spills from getting into surface water drains.

If your bins are located in a public space you should consider restricting access either to the bin store or to the bins themselves by using a lock. If your establishment is located in an area where members of the public can see the bins, consider putting up a screen or fence

Waste transfer responsibilities

Remember that you have a duty of care to make sure that your waste is taken by an authorised collector and that it goes to a legitimate treatment/disposal site. You should give the collector a waste transfer note with a description of the waste which you must keep a record of for two years. Your contactor should be able to advise on requirements.

Further information on regulatory issues is available from: