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MPs: food waste strategy falling short

A blueprint to tackle the UK’s “failing food system”, including greater funding for food waste collections, has been laid out by an influential committee of MPs.  

The Environmental Audit Committee report said ministers must better join up policies on health, environment and education.

But the committee welcomed a decision by ministers to allow local authorities to use the £250m Weekly Collection Support Scheme to initiate food waste collection.

“Without such collections, there is a risk to the use of food waste in anaerobic digestion (AD), as well as for packaging recycling rates,” it said.

“The Government must ensure that there is sufficient funding available for all councils to be able to make sufficiently regular and separated food collections, to help develop a healthy anaerobic digestion sector.”

Ministers should also “undertake new research to consider the opportunities and risks in using food waste to feed livestock”, the report said.

Notably, the report did not recommend a ban on food waste to landfill - a measure many in the AD industry have called for.

Other key recommendations:

  • Government Buying Standards, ensuring food bought for some parts of the public sector meets certain environmental or welfare level, should be raised to reflect best practices and extended to cover hospitals, prisons and schools.
  • Simple and consistent labelling on food sustainability - including recycling and nutritional values - should be introduced, “perhaps through a weighting system to produce an overall score”.
  • The Office of Fair Trading’s remit should be ammended to take account of sustainable development while protecting competition.
  • New national planning policy guidelines should be introduced to ensure that communities have access to healthy food and land to grow their own produce

Read the Environmental Audit Committee - Eleventh Report: Sustainable Food here

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