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Ministers promote anaerobic digestion at food waste debates

Two Defra ministers have backed the use of anaerobic digestion (AD) to help tackle food waste.

Environment secretary Owen Paterson told the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) that he was “a very strong supporter of AD”.

“This is an issue we’ve been working closely with our colleagues in the Department for Energy and Climate Change to see how we can encourage more AD plants based on waste.

“We throw away an appalling amount of food, around 15 million tonnes a year, and one of my enthusiasms is to see that that does not go to landfill but is processed in some way.”

Paterson also suggested the tonnage of food waste could be reduced with greater public education.

Separately, during a food waste debate in the House of Lords, former resource minister Lord de Mauley was asked why the tradition of giving food waste to pigs was remained outlawed.

De Mauley said EU regulation restricted the feeding of food waste to farm animals, with the exception of low-risk foods such as bread, vegetables and fruit.

He added: “Human safety has to be our key concern.”

De Mauley highlighted AD as an alternative route for this food waste and praised Tesco for being the first major UK retailer to publish its food waste figures.

  • In August MRW reported on the ‘Pig Idea’ campaign, which aimed to end legislation banning catering food waste from being fed to pigs. The group claimed this will save 20 times more carbon dioxide emissions than AD.

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