Haddenham Food Waste: The Good, The Bad, and The Green Path Forward

Published: 30 May 2024

Lately, Haddenham Parish Councillor Graham Monger has been delving into the intriguing subject of Haddenham's food waste. Collaborating closely with Buckinghamshire Council, and together with Parish Councillor Alan Thawley, they conducted a site visit to Olleco to explore what happens to Haddenham’s Food Waste! 

Parish Councillors Graham Monger and Alan Thawley on a site visit to Olleco 

Above photo from left to right. Miguel Pepe (Production Planner Olleco), Graham Monger (Haddenham Parish Councillor), Alan Thawley (Haddenham Parish Councillor), Jacqui MacCaig (Commercial Manager Olleco).

Food Waste & Climate Change

Food waste poses a significant challenge, impacting both our environment and contributing to climate change. When discarded food ends up in landfills, it undergoes anaerobic decomposition, releasing methane—a greenhouse gas about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This issue is pervasive, with food waste constituting a significant portion of total waste generated. Globally, food waste contributes to approximately 8 to 10 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK alone, a staggering 4.5 million tonnes of edible food are discarded annually. Tackling this inefficiency within the food supply chain is not merely an environmental necessity but also presents an opportunity to foster positive societal change.

Haddenham’s Food Waste

The waste department of Buckinghamshire Council has compiled comprehensive data on Haddenham's food waste collections since 2019. The below data is based on residential collections only.
  • April 2019 to March 2020 = 244,785 kg
  • April 2020 to March 2021 = 267,196 kg
  • April 2021 to March 2022 = 282,258 kg
  • April 2022 to March 2023 = 266,490 kg
That’s a total food waste collection of 1,060,729 KG over four years!

Furthermore, Buckinghamshire Council's recent analysis of our general waste revealed that 34% comprises food waste, with 69% of this being classified as avoidable.

Where does our waste go?

Before diving into practical measures, it's important to highlight that all of Haddenham’s food waste is directed to Olleco, an advanced anaerobic digestion plant situated in Westcott Park. It is at this facility where our food waste contributes to powering homes and facilitating the production of sustainable biofuel and fertilisers.

How Does Anaerobic Digestion Work?

Anaerobic digestion is a natural process where microorganisms break down organic materials in the absence of oxygen. This process occurs in anaerobic digesters, which are large tanks or vessels specifically designed for this purpose. Let's take a look at the process.
  1. Anaerobic Digestion: The collected food waste arrives at Olleco in Westcott Park. Here, it's loaded into the anaerobic digesters, where microorganisms break it down.
  2. Biogas Production: As the microorganisms digest the food waste, they release biogas—a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. This biogas is captured and collected.
  3. Energy Generation: The captured biogas is used to generate renewable energy in the form of electricity and heat. Some of this energy is used to power the Olleco site, while the excess is fed into the national grid, helping to power homes and businesses in the local area.
  4. Biofertiliser Production: After the digestion process is complete, the remaining material, called digestate, is rich in nutrients. This digestate is then processed into high-quality biofertilisers, which are used to improve soil health and promote sustainable agriculture.
diagram illustrating the anaerobic digestion process

Why is Anaerobic Digestion Important?

 Anaerobic digestion offers several environmental and economic benefits:

  1.  Green Energy Production: By converting food waste into biogas, we're able to produce renewable energy, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Waste Reduction: Anaerobic digestion helps to divert food waste from landfills, where it would otherwise decompose and release methane—a potent greenhouse gas.
  3. Resource Recovery: Through this process, Olleco can recover valuable resources from food waste, such as renewable energy and nutrient-rich fertilisers, closing the loop on waste and creating a more circular economy.

What has Haddenham’s 1,060,729 KG Food Waste Produced?

Olleco has provided the below data based on Haddenham’s food waste collections from April 2019 to March 2023.



At 12,000 miles per year, this is like taking this many cars off the road.


How many years can you power an iPhone?


How many miles can you drive an electric vehicle?


How many years would a 10W LED bulb run for?


What’s The Goal? 

1. Reducing Food Waste

The ultimate goal is to reduce food waste. Achieving this involves a few practical steps:
  • Meal Planning: Plan your meals for the week ahead. This helps you buy only what you need, reducing the likelihood of excess food going to waste. Consider who will be at home for each meal to avoid over-purchasing.
  • Inventory Management: Regularly check your pantry, fridge, and freezer to keep track of perishable items. Use a "first in, first out" system by designating an "eat me first" section in your refrigerator for items that need to be consumed soon.
  • Smart Shopping: Make a shopping list and stick to it. Avoid impulse buys and take advantage of bulk buying only if you are sure you can use the items before they spoil.
  • Portion Control: Serve appropriate portion sizes to minimise leftovers that may go uneaten.
  • Creative Cooking: Use leftovers creatively. Soups, stews, and casseroles are excellent ways to give new life to yesterday's meals. 

2. Using a Food Bin

While some food waste is unavoidable, it's crucial to dispose of it properly:
  • Separate Your Waste: Place food waste into a dedicated food bin rather than general waste. This ensures it can be composted or processed appropriately by companies like Olleco, rather than ending up in landfills or being incinerated.
  • Understand the Impact: Remember, the recent analysis from Buckinghamshire Council indicates that 34% of general waste is actually food waste. When food waste is mixed with general waste, it contributes to environmental issues such as increased landfill use and higher greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Compost at Home: If possible, start a compost bin in your garden or allotment. Composting not only reduces waste but also creates valuable nutrients for your garden.
By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you can significantly reduce food waste, contributing to a more sustainable environment and helping to achieve Haddenham's and Buckinghamshire’s food waste reduction goals.


If you would like to know more or join Haddenham Parish Council Climate Emergency Committee, please contact: Parish Councillor Graham Monger