Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) chief executive Charlotte Morton has called on councils in England to prepare for mandatory separate food waste collections, which will be required under EU rules.
The circular economy (CE) package has been agreed by EU member states and will become binding from 4 July. Countries will then have two years to transpose the package into their own laws.
The new legislation includes a commitment to introduce separate food waste collections by 2023.
Morton said: “We fully expect the UK to implement these targets as an existing member of the EU.
“December 2023 is just over five years away, so local authorities in England need to start factoring the requirement for separate food waste collections into their plans and use contract renewals as an opportunity to introduce collections at the lowest possible cost and with maximum effectiveness.”
The UK’s impending exit from the EU means it is not certain whether the CE package will be retained in its entirety. There have also been indications that resource minister Therese Coffey is not in favour of mandatory collections.
England is the only home nation not to have mandatory food waste collections. Last year, introducing such collections boosted Northern Ireland’s overall recycling rate by five percentage points to 47.1%.
But many councils in England struggle to come up with the cash to introduce separate collections. Currently, around 109 of them offer the service.
In December last year, Defra chief scientific adviser Ian Boyd warned that converting all councils to separate food waste collections would cost up to £20m and “require a robust business case”.
The London Borough of Barnet is planning to abandon food waste recycling on the grounds of cost. Such collections cost the council £300,000 a year for around 5,000 tonnes, equating to £60 a tonne collected.