Defra ‘no’ to landfill ban on food waste

CALLS FOR a ban on sending food waste to landfill will fall on deaf ears, according to reports.


At the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) annual exhibition in Birmingham yesterday, there were calls to ban food waste from landfill to help stimulate anaerobic digestion (AD).


AD currently produces around 1.3 TWh of energy in the UK – enough to power 300,000 homes. But the think tank, CentreForum, believes an 800% expansion to 11 TWh (feeding 2.5 million homes) is possible by 2020 if a ban is imposed.


CentreForum research associate Quentin Maxwell-Jackson said he was surprised that, with all its advantages, AD hasn’t “taken off in a big way yet in the UK. But that is because trying to get an AD scheme up and running at the moment is like trying to win a cycle race with the brakes on.”? CentreForum has just published a new report, highlighting the “simple things” government can do to release the brakes on the technology.


But while a ban on sending organic waste, including food, to landfill is top of the list of recommendations, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Speaking at ADBA’s conference, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs deputy director for food waste Clare Hawley, confirmed that the Government had not changed its stance on the matter since the publication of the Waste Review last year. The possibility of such restrictions is due for review later this year, but many believe there is confusion in Whitehall on what the best policy is.


In Scotland, new regulations are already in place which will see businesses and households separating food waste by law within a couple of years, with a view to a total ban on food waste to landfill by 2020. Many in the AD sector have applauded the policy.


Food waste is a huge concern for foodservice businesses. The Waste and Resources Action programme estimates that the cost of sending a tonne food waste to landfill can be as much as £1,800 when storage, transportation, preparation and other costs are considered alongside disposal. Around 600,000 tonnes of food waste is currently sent to landfill from hospitality businesses. Last month a new voluntary agreement was launched to help divert more of it to AD and composting and cut waste overall.