Waste Disposal Units in Commercial & School Kitchens – New Legislation

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Waste disposal units have long been an accepted tool for the hygienic disposal of food waste, operating by grinding food waste into small particles in a flow of cold water before flushing them down the drain, however recent legislation means waste disposal units can no longer be used in this way.



Water Industry Act 1991:

S111(1)(a) Water Industry Act 1991 provides that “no person shall throw, empty or turn, or suffer or permit to be thrown or emptied or to pass, into any public sewer, or into any drain or sewer communicating with a public sewer any matter likely to injure the sewer or drain, to interfere with the free flow of its contents or to affect prejudicially the treatment and disposal of its contents”.

These offences are now subject to the new Environmental Sentencing Guidelines.

Whilst the act has been in force for over 30 years, most water companies did not consider food waste to be injurious to the sewer and allowed it to be disposed of into the sewer providing it did not include Fats, Oils or Grease (FOG).  Indeed some food actually helped the sewage treatment process.


Environmental Legislation

As part of the overall drive to reduce waste, legislation has been introduced to reduce food waste and to encourage recycling through such means as Composting and Anerobic Digestion.  The Environment (Wales) Act 2016, The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and the Food Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 all now make it illegal to use waste disposal units to discharge food waste into the sewer in the devolved nations.  The Environment Act 2021 will also make it similarly illegal in England when the appropriate section comes into force following DEFRA consultation, which is expected to be in early 2024.


School Responsibilities in Respect of Catering from School Kitchens

Under the Catering SLA/Contract the School or Academy Trust shall provide food waste disposal facilities either via a waste disposal unit in the kitchen or via a food waste collection storage bin/container provided by the School or Academy Trust without recharge.

Where the School or Academy Trust have historically provided a waste disposal unit in the kitchen, in circumstances where the waste disposal unit is “out of order” or not available, the School Catering Service shall be permitted access to the School or Academy Trusts waste removal facilities without recharge, in support of this the School Catering Service will double bag any food waste and food waste will be minimized.

The revised position with the change in legislation is that from early 2024 schools won’t be able to use waste disposal units and must provide an alternative food waste collection service via a licenced waste collection/disposal supplier.


Any queries please contact your Area Manager.


Published: 12/09/2023
Audience: Head Teachers and School Business Managers
Contact: Joanne Lee

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