Social Bite recycling gets council seal of approval

Social enterprise Social Bite was praised today (Thursday September) by Aberdeen City Council for its positive approach to waste recycling.

The Aberdeen branch of the not-for-profit Scottish sandwich chain renowned for Hollywood superstar George Clooney’s support, received the new accolade for minimising packaging, recycling materials and donating unsold food to Aberdeen homeless charities rather than throwing them away.

The Union Street branch has been open for just under a year and is looking to expand its menu through making food in the branch which will, in turn, employ more staff and reduce waste packaging. Social Bite currently employs one in four employees from a homeless background providing them, training and work experience resulting in full time employment.

Social Bite worker Matt Thomas who is based at the Union Street shop said: “We have very little waste and recyclables but for any waste materials there is a mixed recycling container for cardboard, plastic, cans and glass. Thanks to the recycling, I’ve already seen waste decrease”.

Councillor Jean Morrison, Convener of Aberdeen City Council’s Zero Waste sub- committee said “We are delighted to see a socially conscious business like Social Bite take the lead in recycling materials and minimising waste. This is an approach that we would like to see all our businesses adopt, not only to meet their statutory obligations but to make our city a much nicer place to live in.”

Social Byte were identified by ACC’s Compliance Officers as an excellent example of how to manage their waste and comply with regulation. The Compliance Officers have been working in the city centre to improve awareness of the regulations and to resolve waste management issues in the area.

Businesses are required to take all reasonable steps to meet their obligations under the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012. This includes separating dry recyclable materials (i.e. glass, metals, plastics, paper and card, including cardboard) for collection.

In addition, food businesses such as cafés, restaurants or food takeaways in an urban area producing over 5 kg of food waste per week, must also take all reasonable steps to ensure food waste is separately collected.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) regulates the segregation of material for recycling, including food waste that is processed into a premium grade compost and used by local farmers.

Eleanor Strain, a waste specialist with SEPA, gives the following advice: “Establishing a culture of waste segregation in your business doesn’t take long. Look at what types of waste you are producing and get advice from your waste contractor, like Social Bite have, on the best way to manage it. Train your staff and label bins clearly, to put the right waste in the right place.

“The need to separate material for recycling has applied since 2014 but we are still finding food businesses which don’t carry out this basic duty of care. For those who consistently fail to segregate, we will issue a £300 fixed monetary penalty, so take steps now to ensure you comply.”