17 September 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The chief executive of the UK's Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) is calling on the government to commit to universal separate food waste collections in England in its forthcoming Resources & Waste Strategy.
Charlotte Morton has written to senior ministers across government following suggestions in recent weeks that the inclusion of universal food waste collections for England in Defra's forthcoming Resources & Waste Strategy is "unlikely".
Separate food waste collections are currently only available to a quarter of households in England but are carried out at all households in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Morton's letters, which have been sent to secretaries of state including Michael Gove, Greg Clark, and James Brokenshire, implore ministers to emulate the example set by the devolved nations and allow households and businesses across England to separate their inedible food waste from other waste streams so it can be collected to be recycled into renewable energy and nutrient-rich biofertiliser at anaerobic digestion (AD) plants.
Analysis by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) shows that the introduction of universal food waste collections in England would save up to £400 million in capital costs and £1.1 billion in operational costs for local authorities between 2020 and 2050 - even accounting for the cost of introducing weekly food waste collections.
Universal collections would also help local authorities to streamline their recycling systems and cut the costs of sending black-bag waste to landfill.
On the environmental front, ADBA estimates that universal collections for households alone would achieve a carbon saving of between 1 and 1.5 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent a year - the equivalent to taking three-quarters-of-a-million cars off the road.
Six million tonnes of food waste is currently sent to incineration or landfill - most of which is suitable for recycling through AD and some suitable for redistribution to humans or animals.
The UK has less than two years to bring into law the recently passed EU Circular Economy Package, which mandates EU member states to introduce separate collections for biowaste (including food waste) by December 2023.
The NIC and the Committee on Climate Change have both called on the government to divert all food waste from landfill by 2025 at the latest. And the government's own Clean Growth Strategy recognises that doing so would help the UK meet its 2032 Carbon Budget, support resource productivity, and avoid further emissions by preventing food waste in the first place.
The Resources & Waste Strategy is due to be published by the end of the year.