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ADBA lukewarm on food waste for pigs campaign

A campaign to end legislation banning catering food waste from being fed to pigs claims that it will save 20 times more carbon dioxide emissions than anaerobic digestion (AD).

‘The Pig Idea’ campaign, launched by environmentalist Tristram Stuart and chef Thomasina Miers last week, promotes feeding pigs with catering food waste as safe and environmentally friendly.

When asked about how adopting the practice could impact on feedstocks for anaerobic digestion and composting, Charlotte Morton, chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) told MRW: “The waste hierarchy should be applied to all forms of waste – and from the point of view of both the environment and the economy it is very important that food gets eaten rather than recycled or worse still, thrown away.”

She added that in the UK there are only 1m tonnes of AD capacity in place and 15m tonnes of food waste generated.

Feeding pigs with catering food waste was banned in the UK in 2001 due to the outbreak of the foot and mouth disease, which was blamed on a restaurant illegally feeding pigs with unprocessed food waste. The Government claimed the ban prevented the risk of infected meat entering the food chain.

Farmers are currently only allowed to give their animals non-meat based products from food manufacturers and suppliers if they have not been through any form of kitchen.

The campaign claims that feeding food waste to pigs could save around 20 times more carbon dioxide emissions than anaerobic digestion. This stems from the way European pigs are currently being fed cereal crops and soy from South America instead of food waste. Campaigners said this contributes to deforestation, land hunger and pollution.

They also said that the practice will save companies money by not having to pay to send food waste to landfill or even to “friendly practices” such as anaerobic digestion and composting.

Morton told MRW: “It makes sense that food that cannot be eaten by humans is eaten by animals, subject to meeting the regulations that have rightly been put in place to ensure health protection.”

However, she said the effectiveness of such a scheme depends on local circumstances, because food should not be transported long distances.

She added: “There is still plenty more to do to bring waste up the hierarchy from landfill and less sustainable treatment options.”

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