Rigorous action may have to be taken against ‘crime’ of food waste

More rigorous action may have to be taken to stop excessive amounts of food waste being ultimately dumped in landfill, Essex County Council has heard.

According to most recent figures from 2018, just 10 per cent of food waste is recycled by the average Essex household.

The tonnage of separately collected food waste sent for recycling was 437,000 tonnes in 2018.

On average, homes’ rubbish are around two tonnes of food each year and the vast majority of food waste is thrown in general waste.

That level of wastage will have to be addressed, said Malcolm Buckley, cabinet member for waste reduction and recycling, who called food waste ‘a crime’ when he spoke at Essex Council Council’s cabinet meeting last week for the sign off of a new contact for the disposal of bio waste in the county.

He said: “There is still food waste being put in put out in the residual waste bags and that is something of concern that we are working with collection authorities to try to discourage.

“And I think some of the proposals in the environment act will actually help us in that respect because when we do actually analyse the amount of the waste that’s in there, and you look at what should be in there, the two are very different.

“And I think inevitably there’s going to become a situation where collection authorities have to take a rather more rigorous action to ensure that people do separate the materials. The environment act is a step in the right direction.”

The proposed new five year contract which are now out for procurement aim to provide an “economical and sustainable disposal option for segregated municipal food and green waste as well as transfer and haulage”.

Essex County Council say the existing Biowaste Framework does not provide adequate long-term capacity and financial security for this material.

The new contract aims to overcome this by locking in processing capacity with suppliers for a minimum term of five years to provide suppliers with longer term security.

He added: “He added: we’re now looking for a contract to replace to replace the existing contract when it expires to make sure that our food waste is properly dealt with transported correctly likewise with mixed food and we food and green waste again taken to the correct places dealt with in a proper manner.”

A report from Wrap which promotes and encourages sustainable resource use says that UK households still waste 4.5m tonnes of food a year that could have been eaten, worth £14bn.

This amounts to £700 for an average family with children.

Cllr Buckley added: “Food waste is something of concern I think not only morally but also financially and I think to throw food away really we should almost be viewing that as a crime.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter