Anaerobic Digestion Should be Favoured for Food Waste : REA Report: Separate Food Waste Collections Imperative to Meet Recycling Target

food waste olleco biogas anaerobic digestion uk government rea
© Olleco

For the majority of situations, the separate kerbside collection of waste food would save local authorities and businesses money, according to a new report from the UK’s Renewable Energy Association (REA).

The organisation highlighted the background situation in which the UK has a legally binding recycling target of 50% by 2020, but is currently reaching less than 45% and falling. It added that there is no clear plan from government to improve this performance.

The report ‘The Real Economic Benefit of Separate Biowaste Collections’, launched at a Parliamentary Reception in London, outlined why, although counterintuitive for many organisations, a number of factors can actually reduce costs compared to regular general (residual) waste collections.

According tot he authors, a mandatory requirement on food businesses to separate food waste would significantly change the collection market for this material, and would likely enable them to make savings that are less likely to be achieved without legislation.

Some of the advantages highlighted in the report include:

Separate food and other biowaste collections require fewer general waste collections (once the putrescible material has been removed on a weekly basis)

Separately collected food and other biowaste significantly reduces the weight of general waste collections, which in turn reduces the cost of disposing of general wastes in landfill (lower weight reduces gate fees charges by landfills)

Gate fees for the separately collected food waste are significantly lower at anaerobic digestion or composting facilities compared to landfill sites.

Additonal added benefits were said include significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions from landfill and the anticipated growth of the bio gas industry.

Another key recommendation was that Defra should improve its waste hierarchy guidance to make it clear that the requirements of the waste hierarchy are not met by simply diverting waste from landfill.

The report argued that such a change should also make clear that separate collection of biowaste for anaerobic digestion is greatly preferable on environmental grounds to alternative treatment options for such waste when collected as part of a mixed waste stream.

Dr. Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the REA commented:

“Separate food waste collections is a cost-effective policy that can help us hit our recycling target, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and improve our energy security in one fell swoop.

Many regions, including Scotland, Wales, and many regions in Europe, have realised the benefits of not letting food waste go to waste. There’s a range of companies now in the UK that are producing their own renewable heat and power from it, or even fuelling vehicles with it.”

The report was sponsored by national food waste collector Olleco and independently written by Eunomia Consulting. It is part of a larger campaign, led by the Renewable Energy Association, for UK-wide separate food waste collections. For more details click HERE

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