Banning Food Waste to Landfill?

posted 18.11.2013


Food Waste, it?s on everyone?s lips, but not literally. Its one of the fashionable environmental topics of the moment but today we are looking at whether a UK landfill ban on food waste would represent a positive and realistic step. With Christmas around the corner it seems an appropriate time to discuss; with the most wasteful period of the year looming large.

In the UK household food waste alone amounts to 7.3 million tonnes, 35% of which is sent to landfill. Could existing waste infrastructure manage the remainder?

A number of people believe that the biggest opportunity for food waste lies in the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry which produces energy waste. The volume and availability of feedstock make it on paper a straightforward answer to the problem. However, others see potential pitfalls in the scheme not least the cost in upstream infrastructure to ensure segregation of food waste at source. Currently only about 20% of households have separate food waste collections.

Many argue that the ban has the potential to lead to a large increase in incineration if the infrastructure was not fully applied.

This has further sparked debate regarding the economical advantages of the ban, it has been estimated that £508m could be saved in avoided landfill costs and a further £693m generated from AD. Others argue (including a feasibility study conducted by WRAP) that the additional costs of incineration and mechanical biologic treatment (MBT) would result in a ?net cost to society?.

It remains to be seen whether a landfill ban on food waste will become a reality, both the coalition and the opposition have pledged to look at the ban as a potential solution. This is however not the first time that this policy has raised its head after a push five years ago which was later abandoned.  In fact this political uncertainty may prove to be a further barrier to the scheme as it has created a greater doubt in the mind of the banks looking at investing in the waste sector.

Recipro will watch with interest how the Government look at moving forward on the issue of food waste; we trust that the ?waste hierarchy? will be considered in its entirety. The volume of food waste is considerable; the first steps should be to bring this quantity into a more manageable level before looking at other options.

Category: environment, industry, Mike Close