Ministers have been urged to follow the lead of caterers in Parliament and ensure that all inedible food waste in the UK is diverted from landfill and incineration to anaerobic digestion (AD).
Before Christmas, it was announced that an audit was being carried out at Westminster in a bid to reduce food waste, with officials saying MPs’ catering waste was already below the national average.
The House of Commons Commission, which is responsible for administration and services, including the maintenance of the Palace of Westminster, said all catering food was segregated in the kitchens and food preparation areas and was recovered off-site by AD.
Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat MP who represents the Commission in the Commons, was asked by Labour MP Melanie Onn what proportion of unused and uneaten food produced or bought to be served on the parliamentary estate was either recycled, sent to landfill or donated to food aid providers.
He replied: “No catering waste from Parliament is sent to landfill and no uneaten food is donated to food aid providers. We are continuing to identify opportunities to reduce the amount of food waste and to increase the proportion we do generate that goes for recovery.”
An audit of food waste was to be carried out in the Commons, he added.
Charlotte Morton, chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, said: “If the UK’s waste strategy followed the example of Parliament and all inedible food waste was diverted from landfill and incineration to AD, then the industry could generate enough additional indigenous green gas to power 750,000 homes.
“Not only that, but nutrient-rich biofertiliser produced during the AD process improves food production and soil quality, reversing soil degradation trends that are estimated to cost the UK about £1.4bn each year.
“If segregating food waste for AD is right for Parliament, then surely the same principle should apply for the rest of the UK.”
Brake also told MPs that food waste from prepared dishes in House of Commons catering outlets was 3% against sales, below the national average for the catering industry of 5%.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association had rated the Commons “a good practice organisation in respect of food waste”, he said.