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'Slim' chance of food collections in England, councils warn

Councils have warned of a slim chance of separate food waste collections being rolled out in England, despite the European Commission looking to introduce it as fifth stream.

The Commission’s long awaited Circular Economy Package, released on 2 December, adds mandatory separate collection of food and other biowaste to plastics, paper, metal and glass.

Member states are required to implement these collection systems only where they are technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP).

But the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (Larac) has said that food collections are unlikely to be taken up by many councils due to financial pressures and a lack of responsibility to hit recycling targets.

Unlike in Scotland and Wales, local authorities in England hold no responsibility for achieving the EU’s current recycling target of 50% by 2020 or the proposed 65% by 2030.

Speaking at ADBA’s national conference, Larac chief executive Lee Marshall (pictured) said: “The likelihood of new collection schemes coming forward is pretty slim.

“If we don’t have consequences for the target of 50% and we haven’t got money to bring them in, how are we going to do it?”

Marshall said a 24% cut in central government funding in George Osborne’s spending review in November, on top of a 29% over the past five years, made English councils unable to provide the same services as Scotland and Wales, which had been given more support.

Councils that have already optimised all their routes to collect dry recycling would have little scope to save money from introducing food waste, he said.

However, councils that do introduce weekly food collections could reap savings by being able to move to less frequent residual waste services.

He said: “As a general rule of thumb, if you take food waste to an AD plant, it’s going to be cheaper than if you landfill it.

“Also, what you tend to find is when you add a new material to your collection system, you will get an uplift in other materials you are already collecting. So if you introduce food waste collections, you might find you end up collecting more glass and paper.”

Meanwhile, Eunomia has announced it is producing a report to examine the business and environmental case for the separate collection of food waste.

The report, commissioned by the Renewable Energy Association and supported by food waste collector Olleco, will be published in Q1 2016 with the hope of supporting the introduction of a bill in the House of Commons.

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