Implement 3 Rs of waste management by obtaining a food recycling business licence with us.

Food wastage is one such practice that is becoming a global concern. Studies reveal that one-third of the food produced globally yearly is wasted or lost. Food wastage not only affects the resources in India but also affects the environment. Thus, food recycling is the only possible solution to overcome this problem. The process not only involves recycling expired or waste food but also helps to manage plastic waste. As traders hand over the packaging to the plastic recyclers, reducing such waste also. Additionally, after the food recycling, processing it back to the food chain by converting it into cattle feed proves beneficial. So wait no more! Obtain a NOC from SPCB for the food recycling business now!

Food Recycling License - Overview

FAO estimates that around 40% of the food produced is wasted in India because of short supply chains and fragmented food systems. Stats also reveal that the country's food waste is around Rs. 92,000 crores annually. Despite adequate food production, the U.N. has reported that around 190 million Indians are undernourished. Thus, food recycling becomes imperative for the sake of such a large population and the environment.

According to reports, a straight 50 kg of food is thrown away per person annually. This waste food ends up in landfills, producing greenhouse gas that harms the environment. The main offenders of food wastage in India are hotels, supermarkets, food processing industries, restaurants, street vendors, and not to miss the big fat Indian weddings. However, as the quantity of such waste increased, food waste recycling in India also increased. But, the food waste recycling rate was still at 19% only. Having said that, there is a dire need to raise this count so that it can benefit in various ways.

Benefits of food waste recycling

  • The use of waste food after recycling decreases the cost of cattle feed, resulting in higher profits for livestock farmers.
  • Mitigating environmental problems because of the decomposition of such wastes is an additional bonus.
  • Food waste recycling can bridge the gap for cattle feed.
  • Recycling helps in reducing the carbon footprint.
  • A food recycling business can gain significant revenue. In 2022, the food recycling industry witnessed a worth of $62.6 million.

Who requires a food recycling license?

The businesses that need a food recycling licence are: -

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Food packaging plants
  • Industries using the same packed food items from the expiry date should recycle their food waste into compost.

Food waste management hierarchy

Given below are the steps followed in food waste management:

  • i. Reduction and prevention of food wastage at the source
  • ii. Redistribution of unsold or excess food and plastic packaging to plastic waste recycling plants
  • iii. Food waste recycling or treatment
  • iv. Converting into compost

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016


An authorisation is a permission given by Pollution Control Committee (PCC) or the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), as the case may be, to the facility operator/urban local authority/any other agency responsible for the disposal and processing of solid waste. Composting is a controlled process engaging microbial decomposition of organic matter.

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is the responsibility of any producer of packaging products like tin, plastic, glass and corrugated boxes, etc., for environmentally sound management, till the end-of-life of such items.

A facility is any establishment wherein the solid waste management (SWM) processes, namely recycling, segregation, recovery, collection, storage, processing, treatment or safe disposal, are performed.

A materials recovery facility (MRF) is a facility where non-compostable solid waste is temporarily stored by the local body (L.B.)/any other entity/any person/authorised agency to facilitate sorting, segregation and recovery of recyclables from various components of waste by the authorised informal sector of waste pickers/recyclers/any other workforce engaged by the L.B. or entity for the purpose before the waste is taken up or delivered for its disposal or processing.

Processing is any scientific process by which segregated solid waste is handled for recycling, reuse or transformation into new products.

Recycling is transforming segregated non-biodegradable solid waste into new material/product/raw material for generating new products which may or may not be similar to the original one.

Criteria for duties regarding setting-up food waste recycling plant in India

(1) The department in charge of the allocation of land assignment is responsible for offering suitable land for setting up the food waste recycling plant in India and notifying such sites of the State Government or Union Territory Administration.

(2) The operator of the food waste recycling plant must design and set up the unit according to the technical norms issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) regarding this gradually and the manual on SWM prepared by the Ministry of Urban Development.

(3) The facility operator must obtain necessary approvals from the SPCB/PCC.

(4) The PCC or SPCB must monitor the environmental standards of the operation of the food waste recycling facilities.

(5) The operator must have the food waste recycling licence granted by SPCB.

(6) The facility operator is responsible for the safe and environmentally sound operations of the food waste recycling and unit according to the norms issued by the CPCB gradually and the Manual on Municipal SWM published by the Ministry of Urban Development and progressively updated.

(7) The operator must submit an annual report in Form III annually by 30th April to the PCC or SPCB and concerned L.B.

Annual report

The operator food waste recycling facility must submit the annual report to the L.B. in Form-III on or before the 30th day of April annually.

Accident reporting

In case of an accident at any food waste recycling plant in India or landfill site, the Officer-in-charge of the facility must report to the L.B. in Form-VI. The L.B. must review and issue instructions, if any, to the in charge of the facility.

Documents required for food recycling license

The documents required for the food recycling business are as follows -
  • A covering requisition letter mentioning the status of the activities and industry
  • Copy of the lease deed, attested sale deed, or any other documents as proof of the factory or site possession
  • Copy of attested MOA in case of private or public sectors or registered partnership deed in case of partnership company
  • Plan layout representing the utilities like boiler, generator, etc., location of process equipment, effluent treatment plant (ETP), outlet location, and non-hazardous and hazardous waste storage yard.
  • Schematic diagram representing the distance of roads, water bodies, residential areas, agricultural lands, educational institutions, religious locations, ancient monuments, archaeological places, and other sensitive areas around the unit in 2km radium from such unit.
  • Auditor's certificate with the breakup details for the proposed gross fixed assets duly certified by a C.A. and financial provisions for the Pollution Control Measures.
  • Utility bills
  • PAN or Aadhaar card
  • GST registration
  • Factory license
  • Form of Application for grant/renewal of registration of industrial units having environmentally sound management facilities for food waste recycling/reprocessing
  • ETP/STP, if any
  • The total quantity of waste to be processed daily
  • D.G. set, if any
  • CTE
  • CTO

Procedure for obtaining the food recycling license

The food recycling license means the NOC or the Consent to Operate (CTO) and the Contest to Establish (CTE) issued by the SPCB. The procedure for obtaining the food recycling license is as follows
  • i. Apply Form I to the concerned SPCB.
  • ii. The application must be attached with the requisite documents and information.
  • iii. The concerned authority then inspects the premises where the business is performed. After such inspection, the authority can reject or accept the application for a food recycling license.
  • iv. If the application is accepted, the board issues the applicant a license.
  • v. The food waste recyclers must adhere to the environmental standards according to Schedules I & II of the SWM Act.

Standards for composting

The food waste recycling plant must include composting as one of the technologies for processing such waste. To prevent pollution from compost plants, one must be comply with the following:-

(a) The site's incoming organic or food waste must be appropriately stored before further processing. The waste storage area must be covered to the possible extent. If such storage is situated in an open surrounding, it must be provided with an impermeable base with a facility for collecting leachate. Also, there must be a facility for surface water run-off into lined drains leading to a leachate treatment and disposal facility.

(b) Necessary precautions must be taken to reduce the nuisance of flies, odours, rodents, bird menace and fire hazards.

(c) In case of maintenance or breakdown of the plant, waste intake must be stopped, and arrangements be made for the diversion of such waste to the temporary processing site or temporary landfill sites, which shall be again reprocessed when the food waste recycling plant starts working again;

(d) Pre-process and post-process rejects must be removed from the facility regularly and must not be allowed to pile at the site. Recyclables must be routed through appropriate vendors.

(e) The windrow area must be provided with an impermeable base. Such a base must be made of compacted or concrete clay 50 cm thick and have a permeability coefficient of less than 10–7 cm/sec. The base must have a 1 to 2 per cent slope and be circled by lined drains to collect leachate or surface run-off.

(f) Ambient air quality monitoring must be regularly conducted. Odour nuisance in the down-wind direction on the boundary of the recycling plant must also be checked periodically.

(g) Leachate must be re-circulated in the compost plant for moisture maintenance.

(h) The end product compost must meet the standards prescribed under Fertilizer Control Order notified gradually.

(i) To guarantee the safe application of compost, the specifications for compost quality must be met.

Food waste composting

Food waste in landfills produces a greenhouse gas - methane. By food waste composting, methane emissions can be decreased. Compost decreases and also eliminates the need for chemical fertilisers. Compost also boosts the higher yields of crops.

Benefits of the food waste composting

The following are the benefits of food waste composting -

  • Promotes plant growth
  • Prevents soil erosion
  • Healthier plants
  • Conserves water
  • Improves soil quality
  • Reduces waste
  • Decreases emission of greenhouse gas
  • MinimisesMinimises the odours in agricultural areas

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What are the principles guiding the food recycling business?

    • Integration of the informal sector
    • The integrated SWM system
    • DecentralisedDecentralised waste management system
    • EPR
    • Registering food waste recycling (management) Business In India
  • 2. What licences are required for starting a food recycling business in India?

    The food waste recyclers must adhere to the environmental standards according to the Schedules I and II of the SWM Act. The following are the licenses required to start a food waste recycling business.

    SPCB Authorisation: To establish a food waste recycling business, the owner must obtain an authorisation from the SPCB or PCC. After getting the authorisation, they must submit Form I. Subsequently, the authorities will conduct an inspection to grant the authorisation.

    Consent NOC: The recycler must apply for CTE and CTO. Consent to Establish is obtained before the establishment of the food recycling plant, and Consent to operate is obtained starting the operations.

    FSSAI Registration: The FSSAI has mandated every food business operator to get an applicable food license to guarantee food safety. If the business generates an edible item with by-product waste from food recycling facilities, an FSSAI registration is mandatory.

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