How to Dispose of Food

Four Methods:Recycling and Composting Food WasteDonating Unwanted FoodDisposing of Non-Reusable Food WasteReducing Your Food Waste

Whether cooking at home or eating out, people tend to waste a lot of food. Throwing out food responsibly is important, because when food rots, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is dangerous to the environment. Dispose of food recycling and composting organic materials, and giving away what you can to charity, and putting other food in the trash. You should also try to take what steps you can to minimize your food waste.

Method 1
Recycling and Composting Food Waste

  1. 1
    Compost at home. Composting foods that can be organically disposed of at home is a great way to reduce the amount of food you throw in the trash. It’s good for the environment, and can give you some useful compost for the garden. Homemade compost will fertilize your soil and help with any gardening you do.
    • Use food scraps such as fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, eggshells, nutshells and tea bags.
    • Do not dispose of meat, dairy or oils this way.
    • Add the food waste to cardboard, newspaper, vegetation and other organic materials in your compost pile. Mix it in with soil and dirt so the food can be broken down.
    • When you add new material to the pile, turn it with a garden fork or other tool to let fresh oxygen in to help with the composting process.
    • If you don’t have a yard, you can still compost at home with an earthworm farm.[1]
  2. 2
    Visit your local recycling centre. If you don’t have the space, or are uncertain about composting at home, you can still deal with your food waste responsibly by visiting your local recycling centre. Lots of recycling centres will have facilities to deal with food waste and composting. Generally you will be able to bring your food waste and either leave it with someone there, or dump it into the appropriate container.
    • Be sure you check the specific guidelines for your centre before you go.
    • You may need to separate your food waste in a particular way before you take in it.
    • Make sure you know what food waste they accept and what they don’t.
    • For example, they will not take meat, but they will take organic waste, such as fruit and vegetables.
    • Your local government will be able to provide details on recycling facilities near you.
  3. 3
    Use a local authority food waste scheme. Depending on where you live, you may be able to use a food waste scheme that is run by your local authority. It is becoming increasingly common for local authorities to provide a small food waste composting bin to households, which is then picked up alongside the regular trash collection.[2]
    • If you are uncertain about this, contact your local authority to find out if your neighbourhood is part of a scheme.
    • Talk to neighbours to find out if they know about it, and how you can get involved.
    • In these schemes you will often be provided with compostable bags to put your compostable food waste in.[3]

Method 2
Donating Unwanted Food

  1. 1
    Determine what food goods are suitable to donate. If you have food clogging up your cupboards that you are not going to eat, there is an alternative to just tossing it in the trash. Donating food to local charities, such as food banks and soup kitchens, is a great way to make sure nothing goes to waste. If you decide to do this, the first thing to do is determine what kind of food is suitable for you to donate.
    • Generally non-perishable food, such as tinned vegetables, soups, fish and meat are all appropriate.
    • Low-sugar cereal, tubs of peanut butter, raisins, and juice boxes are also very welcome.
    • Avoid using food in glass jars or containers. These may not be accepted because of the risk of them breaking.[4]
    • Remember you can also ask friends and family to see if they want anything too.
  2. 2
    Contact local charities. Once you have an idea of what foods you have that may be suitable to donate, you need to look up some local charities. Search for food banks and food drives in your area, and call up to ask how to donate. You can search for your local food banks by using the online search tool of national hunger charities.[5]
    • There are special apps that help businesses to donate unwanted food.[6]
    • As an individual, it is best to work with an established charity, either local or national.
  3. 3
    Deliver it to the food centre. Carefully pack up your food and then take your packages to your local food bank to deliver them to the staff and volunteers there. They will be happy to see you and accept your donation providing everything is packed well and you have not added in anything that is not an appropriate donation. While you’re at the food drive you could find out a little more about the work they do. Often they will be looking for new volunteers to help organise and distribute the donations.
    • If you have some spare time, why not get involved with the charity and volunteer with them.
    • There are normally a range of volunteering opportunities available.[7]
  4. 4
    Donate food from a restaurant. You can also donate excess food to charity if you run a restaurant. Contact a local charity with details about the food you wish to donate, and they will send a truck or van to come and collect from the restaurant. These schemes may also enable you to donate perishable and prepared foods, which will then be frozen or delivered immediately to a local shelter.[8]
  5. 5
    Donate food from a grocery store. You can also donate excess food from a grocery store or food wholesalers. The process is similar to that for restaurants and hotels. You will need to contact a local organisation and give them details on the excess food you would like to donate. The organisation will then arrange to pick up the food directly from you.
    • You could become a corporate partner of a local or national food charity if you are an organisation that frequently has food waste.
    • Being a corporate partner enables you to make a regular arrangement for donations and may offer your business tax benefits.[9]

Method 3
Disposing of Non-Reusable Food Waste

  1. 1
    Separate spoiled foods. You should act fast to deal with any food that is spoiled or that will go bad quickly. Such foods should be separated from the rest of your trash, kept in heavy duty plastic bags and disposed of quickly.[10] If practical, put meats and other foods that rot quickly into the trash on the day it will be collected. Rotting food will attract pests and insects.
    • Tie meats and any raw foods you are disposing of into plastic bags before you put them into your trash bag. This will minimize leaks and odours.
    • Ensure your trash can is fully secured and there is no odour that could attract pests.
    • Dispose of your meat quickly to avoid any potential problems with maggots.
  2. 2
    Collect oils and fats in a container. Dispose of cooking oils and fats by collecting them in a jar, tub, or other container that you don’t mind throwing away. Do not pour hot oil or fat from cooking meats down your sink drain. This will cause plumbing problems that may be expensive. You should always dispose of oil and grease in the trash, not down the drain.[11]
    • Throw the jar of fat into the trash when it gets full. Do not recycle the jar.
    • You can also use leftover fat (or suet) to make fat balls for your garden bird feeder.
    • Mix the fat with some dry kitchen scraps, such as porridge oats, and leave it to set in the fridge overnight.
    • Once it’s hard you can hang it from a tree or place it in a birdfeeder.[12]
  3. 3
    Use your garbage disposal. If you have a garbage disposal attached to your sink, use it to dispose of food when you are cleaning up after a meal. Scrape food waste into your drain and turn on the disposal while running cold water. Listen for the grinding up of your food waste. Turn off the disposal and the water when you hear the blades return to their normal, empty position.
    • Remember not to put anything in your disposal that is not biodegradable.
    • Don’t put anything like glass, metal, plastic or paper in there.
    • Don’t pour grease or oil in your garbage disposal.
    • Don’t put expandable food, like rice or pasta, in there.[13]
  4. 4
    Don’t put food waste into a septic system. Putting food waste in your septic system should be avoided. If you have a septic system take care not to wash food scraps, coffee grounds, oils or fats down the sink. The more solids that make it into your take, the more often it will need to be pumped.[14]
    • If you have a grinder or garbage disposal in your house try to limit the amount you use it as much as possible.
    • Using a garbage disposal may affect the warranty on your septic system.
  5. 5
    Know what foods you can just throw out. There are some foods that are inappropriate for composting or recycling, such as dried pasta, rice, bread and other grains. Dried foods like pasta and rice can be good to donate to food banks, and they generally have a very long shelf-life, so you shouldn't have to throw much away.
    • If you do find some really old pasta or rice at the back of the cupboard you can just toss it in the trash.
    • You may be tempted to feed stale bread to birds in your garden, but it has little nutritional value. Mouldy bread can even harm birds.[15]
    • Dairy products cannot be recycled or composted and should just be thrown in the trash.[16]

Method 4
Reducing Your Food Waste

  1. 1
    Store food effectively. Take some steps to help you reduce the amount of food waste you produce in the long-term. Often if we store food incorrectly it goes bad before it’s time, or it has a very limited lifespan. By taking the time to store food more effectively you can waste less and get better value for money.
    • Freeze any fresh foods that you will not use right away so you can use them at a later date.
    • Consider freezing leftovers such as soups, stews and pastas.
    • Make sure all your storage containers are secure and kept in the appropriate climactic conditions.
    • For example, some foods need to be kept in the fridge, and others should be in kept in a cool, dry place.
  2. 2
    Shop smart. A simple way to reduce your food waste is to buy less food. Pay attention to how much you normally throw away, and try to make some adjustments to your grocery shop accordingly. A great way to do this is to plan out your meals for the week and then just buy what you need to make those dishes.
    • Be wary of special offers and buy-one-get-one-free deals.
    • If you cannot store the extra food, ask yourself if you will just end up throwing it away.[17]
  3. 3
    Make the most of leftovers. Another great way to cut down on food waste, and really get the most of the food you buy, is to make the most of your leftovers. You can turn leftovers into extra meals or snacks, or use them to make stocks and stews. Look for recipes that use what you have left. Aim to use every bit of food that you cooked. You can find a host of helpful recipes for leftovers online.[18]
    • Preserve or can any fruits and vegetables that you have a surplus of.
    • Be sure you use leftovers safely. Pack them properly in airtight containers, and keep them in the fridge or freezer.
    • Use leftovers within two days, and don’t reheat food more than once.[19]

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Categories: Food Safety