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REA welcomes mandatory food waste collections

Responding to the UK government's newly released Waste and Resource Strategy (RWS), the Renewable Energy Association (REA) says that it is delighted to see that the Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove has recognised the need both to reduce food waste as well as to collect it for energy generation and use as a natural fertiliser.

Malaby Biogas Bore Hill Farm Biodigester in Warminster, Wiltshire has become the first English anaerobic digestion (AD) plant to be certified under the Anaerobic Digestion Certification Scheme (ADCS), an industry-led initiative designed to raise standards and recognise good practice in the running of AD plants (photo courtesy Malaby Biogas).

On December 18, 2018, the UK government published its Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS), outlining a comprehensive new plan for recycling a range of materials, including food waste. The Renewable Energy Association (REA) says that is “delighted” that the Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove has recognised the need both to reduce food waste as well as to collect it for energy generation and use as a natural fertiliser.

The REA is delighted at these policy proposals in the Strategy and looks forward to working closely with Government to increase food waste recycling across England. We have been pressing Defra for a number of years to follow the example of the devolved nations to mandate food waste collections, in order that this valued resource is better utilised, rather than being landfilled. We need more work on waste prevention measures but, alongside these, it is vital that both household and commercial food waste is captured within this initiative, with local authorities being sufficiently incentivised or funded to make this happen at the earliest opportunity, said Jeremy Jacobs, Technical Director of the REA.

Jacobs also noted that separate collection of food waste is to be rolled out nationally .which was welcome but called for effective use of existing infrastructure.

We are also keen to see that existing infrastructure is used effectively to treat garden waste and food waste, where it is comingled, rather than send food waste excessive distances to AD facilities, many such in-vessel composting facilities already exist and have a valuable role to play in the treatment of food waste. It is further welcome that the strategy aims to incentivise producers, at the top of the waste hierarchy, to ensure their products can be reused and recycled. Government needs to consider how the funds raised from this will support activity to see much-needed increases in recycling rates and ensure the available capacity of energy recovery technologies where recycling is not possible, Jacobs said.

The REA, which has a large number of members involved in the anaerobic digestion (AD) and composting sector handling food waste, has long campaigned for more food waste prevention measures as well as the need to collect food waste.

Back in 2016, it led the way in promoting the topic when it commissioned a ground-breaking report from Eunomia consultants (funded by REA members Olleco) which recommended that food waste collection did not need to cost more when viewed holistically.

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