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Prioritise kitchen waste groups for community support fund

By Greg Pitcher

The Governments £4 million fund for community recycling groups should prioritise kitchen waste projects, according to the Community Composting Network (CCN).

A consultation period on the Waste Implementation Programmes (WIP) Community Sector Support Programme closes today.

The programme aims to help those small organisations that support their community by providing opportunities and sustainable development.

Such groups are facing difficulties because the increasing scale of recycling contracts means they are attracting more competition from national firms.

CCN sent its response to Government last week, emphasising that the fund is only a drop in the ocean and must be channelled carefully.

Its response said: CCN welcomes the increased levels of support being offered to the community sector by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Without wishing to sound ungrateful, it must be recognised that £4 million is a limited sum of money. It is evident that it should be used in the most strategic way possible.

In recent years, community composting projects have been particularly hard hit by the Animal By-Products Regulations (ABPR). The development of this legislation forced many groups to curtail or cease their activities.

Community groups are finding it difficult both to raise the funds to develop compliant food-waste-related projects and to understand what is a very complicated piece of legislation.

In addition to domestic targets, there is a ban on commercial animal by-products, including commercial food waste, going to landfill after the end of 2005. At present there are only 11 ABPR-approved composting and anaerobic digestion facilities in England. These would not be able to cope with the volumes of commercial food waste, let alone domestic kitchen waste.

CCN would recommend that kitchen waste collection and processing services are high priorities in terms of receiving grant funding and development support from the programme.

DEFRA explained the reasons for the £4m fund in a statement when it announced the consultation period last month.

The activities of the community waste sector are being squeezed out by an increasing shift in local authority behaviour driven by the challenging targets of the Landfill Directive, it said.

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