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Call for all London councils to separate food waste

All local authorities in London should have separate food waste collections, according to a report from the London Assembly Environment Committee.

The study, Bag it or bin it? Managing London’s domestic food waste, is a response to the forecast that London’s landfill sites will be full by 2025.

With food waste accounting for 20% of all domestic waste in the capital, the committee has urged boroughs to implement separate food waste collections across all types of property, including inner city flats where recycling participation tends to be particularly low.

The service is offered by 23 of the 33 boroughs in the capital, but half of London’s households still do not have a food waste recycling option because flats are not covered by most food collections schemes.

The report also found that, at present, only one plant in London, TEG’s Dagenham facility, provides dedicated organic waste treatment.

Cost was identified as the biggest barrier to implementing food waste collections. But the study found that properly funded and well promoted food waste collections can actually reduce the amount of waste generated by households in the first place, potentially making the service cost-neutral.

The report also said that data on food waste is scarce, which hinders local authorities’ ability to make effective changes.

The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA), boroughs and WRAP should improve data collection on food waste so that better projections of need and demand can be made, said the committee.

The report included a list of recommendations for the mayor of London, including:

  • helping councils secure additional resources from the Government to develop separate collections
  • protecting LWARB’s budget, to allow it to continue the support of programmes for food waste recycling strategies
  • lobbying the Government for the devolution of landfill tax to London
  • working with LWARB and London Councils to introduce mechanisms for a consistent, London-wide approach to communication about food waste by April 2016

Stephen Knight, committee chairman, said: “At 34%, the capital has one of the lowest household recycling rates in England and rates for inner London are even lower, at just 16%.

“When we take a closer look at how London’s boroughs are performing, we are seeing a concerning lack of consistency, with 10 boroughs still not collecting any household food waste at all.”

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