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REA and Larac collaborate after food waste spat

The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (Larac) has agreed to work with the Renewable Energy Association (REA) after severely criticising the association’s recent report of food waste.

Both organisations have released a joint statement expressing their intention to collaborate on boosting food waste collections.

The REA report The Real Economic Benefit of Separate Biowaste Collections, written by Eunomia and sponsored by Olleco, concluded that separate food waste collections were cost-effective and should be made mandatory for local authorities and businesses.

Larac had dismissed the report as “self-serving”, saying the potential for making savings in England were much more limited than it suggested. It said the conclusions reached were flawed because the authors had failed to consult councils.

But now the committee’s chair Andrew Bird has released a more positive statement.

He said: “Local authorities are under extraordinary pressure at the moment and for the foreseeable future, and each faces their own difficult budgetary choices.

“We know that the REA understands this, and we see the point of their report: that there are potential savings to be made with separate food waste treatment compared with residual waste disposal, and this can help to offset additional collection costs.

“We look forward to working with them, and with the Government, to find solutions to the UK’s recycling and sustainability needs.”

The REA had previously defended its report by saying it modelled the costs associated with separate collections for businesses and local authorities, adding that collaboration would be critical to improving collection systems.

Now REA technical director Jeremy Jacobs has said: “Increasing the volume of food waste that is collected separately is critical to meet our legally binding recycling target of 50% by 2020.

“There is an urgent need for new policy; collaboration and consensus are the strongest tools we have available to achieve it.

“The renewables industry is sensitive to the tight budgetary constraints that most local authorities face, and we are open to working with them to deliver workable solutions and innovative funding models.”

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