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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 July 2006, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
How cafes can put leftovers to good use
Olive oil bottles
In some circumstances unused food can be given to charity
Cafes and restaurants produce a mountain of waste food and used cooking oils.

Instead of throwing it all away, there are a number of ways in which it can be recycled, as Dr Martin Gibson, director of Envirowise, explains.

Susan Haines, Leeds, UK
Are there any organised means for cafes and restaurants to recycle their waste food and cooking oils?

Instead of throwing everything out with the rubbish or down the drain, surely it would make sense to recycle it for agricultural use?

Martin Gibson, director of Envirowise
The best thing with food waste is to first identify ways of reducing the amount being produced.

But while not all food waste is avoidable, recycling of waste food is a tricky area as there are hygiene rules that cover what can be done with it.

Under some circumstances, unused food can be distributed to charity.

One such organisation worth contacting is FareShare, a charity which delivers surplus food to people in need. A link to its website is including on the right.

Alternatively, some companies will collect waste food for composting.

However, the availability and appropriateness of this is variable.

The Environment and Energy Helpline 0800 585 794 can help you identify if such a service is offered in your area.

Cooking oils are increasingly being collected to be turned into transport fuels.

This is a growth area and seems likely to increase rapidly in the near future.

I suggest you contact the Affiliated Cooking Oil Reclaimers Nationwide (ACORN) via A&B Oil on 023 8033 9292 for a local recycler.

Dr Gibson is director of Envirowise, the government-financed programme designed to help companies reduce their environmental costs.

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