Waste collection / management

What is AD’s role in waste management?

AD offers an excellent opportunity for farms, businesses and local authorities to save money on waste management while improving their environmental performance and generating energy to meet their demands or sell to the grid.

Approximately two thirds of the UK’s biogas potential comes from food waste, the vast majority of which is in the control of local authorities. To allow the full value of this resource to be realised, it is vital that it is sent to AD plants rather than landfill or incinerated.

Source segregated collection of this waste is vital to ensure that AD plants receive uncontaminated feedstock which will produce quality digestate to return to land and support food production. Source segregated collections also reduce overall waste arisings, save costs and reduce the contamination of dry recyclable material (such as paper, plastic and glass) allowing better quality – and therefore higher value – products to be created.

Businesses generate over a third of Britain’s food waste each year, costing £8 billion to treat. By either building a plant to treat their own waste, or separating their waste to be collected for AD, they can significantly cut the cost of waste collection and management. Not only this, businesses will also help to deliver significant carbon savings and help to fight climate change by ensuring organic waste is not landfilled or incinerated.

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What is government doing?

The government’s 2011 Review of Waste Policy in England stated that AD offered the ‘greatest environmental benefit’ of any food waste treatment, but didn’t put in place policies which help drive more waste into AD plants.

A key driver for local authorities introducing food and garden waste collections and looking to support AD is the Landfill Tax, which will see the cost of disposing of waste in landfill rise steeply in the coming years.

The government introduced a Weekly Collection Support Scheme in February 2012, which is supporting weekly collection schemes in England with £250 million of funding. Although some local authorities are using this to try and introduce food waste collections, ADBA believes that there needs to be much clearer direction from central government explicitly supporting separate food and garden waste collections over other collection schemes.

Is there anything else government should be doing?

The UK government should be following Scotland’s example if we want to manage our waste sustainably, which has seen the Scottish Government provide the legislative framework to support rolling out food waste collections across all local authorities by 2015 and banning organic waste to landfill by 2020, under their Zero Waste Plan.

Government must support local authorities to introduce separate food waste collections with clear focused funding, as the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has advocated. The Committee argued in May 2012 that ‘the government must ensure that there is sufficient funding available for all councils to be able to make sufficiently regular and separated food collection, to develop a healthy anaerobic digestion sector.