The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) has told councils to consider increasing separate food waste collections to tap into the economic potential for anaerobic digestion (AD).
Electricity generated by fermenting food waste in the AD process could be marketed to areas outside the region, boosting its economy.
A study commissioned by EERA revealed that food waste collections from homes and businesses were, so far, a missed opportunity. It said that the majority of local authorities collect garden waste, but only about 5% in the region collect food waste for treatment. It suggested that more local authorities should consider offering food collections separate from green waste to raise collection rates.
Eastern England has plenty of commercial composting facilities but only one plant uses AD to generate heat and power. Following the studys findings, EERA is recommending that more AD facilities are developed as a longer term solution to organic waste management in the region.
Regional Planning Panel chairman Derrick Ashley said: Generating electricity from surplus and spoiled food has been a real missed opportunity up until now.
Councils and businesses can reduce their waste disposal costs and provide the impetus for a whole new energy industry to thrive in the east of England, providing jobs and a boost to the economy.
A quarter of a million tonnes of organic waste from supermarkets, florists, restaurants and hotels was also identified by the study as potential feedstock for composting and AD.