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Gove indicates backing for separate food waste collections

Environment secretary Michael Gove has told waste industry representatives at a Conservative Party conference fringe meeting he would like to see a national separate food waste collection scheme.

Speaking at an event organised by think-tank Demos, Gove said council collections could be partially funded by the business sector through a reformed extended producer responsibility (EPR) policy.

In addition, Gove said he would prefer to expand EPR to fund recycling instead of using taxation or introducing bans on types of materials.

This appears to be a shift in thinking, as resource minister Therese Coffey has previously indicated she is not in favour of mandatory collections.

Currently, around 120 English local authorities offer separate food waste collections. But others, including Barnet and Wolverhampton, have said they cannot afford to carry on with the service.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland already have mandatory collections and, as a result, their recycling rates are increasing and look to be overtaking England’s rate.

The forthcoming resources and waste strategy is to include a target to stop food waste going to landfill by 2030.

A Defra spokesperson said: “It is encouraging to see so many local authorities introducing separate collections for food waste, and we will work to support an increase in numbers so that the amount of food waste sent to landfill continues to decline.

“However, we recognise that more needs to be done, which is why we are looking at further ways to reduce avoidable waste and recycle more as part of our resources and waste strategy later this year.”

Gove also told the audience, which included representatives from some of the UK’s biggest waste management firms, that “there will always be a need for energy from waste” and landfill for some wastes.

Following the Demos event, a spokesperson for Gove was forced to scotch reports that the Government was considering a ban on disposable nappies.

The spokesperson said: “Michael did not say we would ban disposable nappies and we’re not going to. Of course, we are looking at what we can do to encourage more sustainable alternatives, but there won’t be a ban.”

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