Waste management programme FareShare 1st, officially launched today, pledges to provide a sustainable solution for Britain's food and drink surplus, having worked with major firms over the past two years to develop a viable model.
The charity already redistributes food that is safe to eat but past its sell-by date to homeless charities. Now it will tackle the seven million tonnes of food dumped into landfill every year that is not consumable by providing a recycling channel to Britain's food manufacturers - bringing convenience and savings to the headache of waste disposal.
"In order to be relevant to the food industry we looked at how we should best serve the sector over two years. What's come out of that process is the launch of FareShare 1st. We now take all food no matter what state it is in, and what we can't give to charities will go into the recycling industry," said FareShare's marketing director Alex Green.
"In effect, we are now able to take businesses which are working towards becoming greener to the next level."
The charity worked with Nestle and Kellogg's to build an effective model that promises to improve the firms' disposal processes while saving money.
"We told them we would look to simplify their waste processes and if we can do that we will charge them - and it worked," said Green.
FareShare will now join forces with Kraft and Northern Foods, and is confident it can help move more companies forward on the issue of sustainable waste management.
"We work down the supply chain, with distributors and manufacturers. Ultimately the service will move them much more quickly towards meeting legislative requirements while meeting corporate responsibility demands too," said Green.
Other organisations are also moving towards providing more sustainable alternatives to waste management in the food industry, which currently adds about 10 per cent to total UK industry waste, according to government figures. But although the green waste market is burgeoning it's still not at capacity to deal with the volumes coming through, said Green.
"The food and drink sector produces about seven million tonnes of waste per year, most of which is food waste - making it the single biggest manufacturing producer of industrial waste," an Environment Agency spokesperson told FoodandDrinkEurope.com.
"And this number is growing by around five per cent per year," she added.
But under EU law, the UK must half the amount of waste going to landfill by 2013. And failure to comply with the regulations could mean fines running at half a million pounds per day for the British government.
"Cutting waste can be profitable. At the end of the day it's all about optimisation. And getting environmental credentials will help brand positioning," said Maia Vassileva, media manager of environmental consultancy Envirowise.
With a gross output of £65.7bn, the food and drink business is one of the largest sectors in UK industry, accounting for 17 per cent of manufacturing GDP.
As a result, it has been subjected to various EU and UK laws preventing excessive waste, water use and emissions - which can cost companies millions in fines.
But Envirowise claims that by sticking to the legislation and minimising wastage, companies can reclaim about 4.5 per cent of annual turnover that is lost every year.