The Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) has urged ministers to “do the right thing” and make separate food waste collections mandatory.
The UK signed up to the EU’s circular economy package in the summer, which made it seem likely the Government would commit to separate household food collections in England. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have already imposed mandatory collections.
However, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) said Defra told it that separate collections are ‘unlikely’ because of cost concerns. Several English local authorities have also said they cannot afford to do it.
ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton has hit back, citing analysis by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) that indicates universal food waste collections in England would save money.
NIC estimates that up to £400m in capital costs and £1.1bn in operational costs could be saved by councils between 2020 and 2050 by switching over.
Morton said: “Separating inedible food waste from other waste streams so that energy and nutrients can be fully recovered has huge environmental and economic benefits.
“The Government has a clear opportunity in its resources and waste strategy to do the right thing and make the UK a leader in the growing circular economy by introducing universal food waste collections and meaningful support for local authorities in introducing these.
“Given the well-known scale of food waste and loss, and its impacts worldwide, failing to do so would represent a real failure of leadership by ministers.”
Morton has been writing to senior ministers across departments urging them to reconsider. These include environment secretary Michael Gove, business secretary Greg Clark and communities secretary James Brokenshire.
Morton added that ADBA would be meeting senior Government advisers and politicians across parties to “hammer home” the need for “urgent action”.
Food waste collections are available to a quarter of households in England and all households in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Universal collections would also help local authorities to streamline their recycling systems and reduce the costs of sending black bag waste to landfill.
ADBA estimates that universal collections for households would create a carbon saving of up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent a year. This is the equivalent to taking three-quarters of a million cars off the road.
The organisation said, currently, six million tonnes of food waste that could be recycled through AD – or, where suitable, redistributed to alleviate food poverty – is being sent to landfill or incineration.
It has emerged that the resources and waste strategy will include a target to stopping food waste going to landfill by 2030.
NIC and the Committee on Climate Change have both called for the Government to divert all food waste from landfill by 2025 at the latest.
The Government’s Clean Growth Strategy said that this would help the UK to meet its 2032 Carbon Budget, support resource productivity and avoid further emissions by preventing food waste in the first place.