ADBA’s second dinner debate formed a consensus on the substantial potential of food waste as a vital resource for greener, smarter city designs.
Held in central London under Chatham House Rule, the debate included leaders from AD operators, waste collection firms, residual waste treatment sites and waste management consultants. Attendees discussed whether food waste should be banned from incineration and the role food waste can play in fuelling the technologies that will support sustainable urban design.
The debate focussed on the best mechanism to move waste up the hierarchy, and how the next government can combine ‘push’ factors such as food waste collections with ‘pull’ factors such as support for biomethane in transport and digestate markets. Local authority budgets are tight – but attendees recognised that well designed services with weekly food waste collections can reduce the frequency and cost of residual collection, while maintaining a high standard of service to residents.
Commenting at the debate, ADBA’s Chief Executive, Charlotte Morton, said:
ADBA’s food waste debate highlighted how the anaerobic digestion industry has matured, and is now a credible and important part of the resource market. Improved recycling rates can only be achieved through food waste collections, and the biomethane we can generate has an important role in reducing emissions and improving air quality in greener, smarter cities.
Currently only 12 per cent of the estimated 15 million tonnes of UK food and drink waste is recycled through AD. If we were to recycle all inedible food waste, the industry could produce 9.3TWh per year of biomethane – enough green gas to fuel 60 per cent of the UK’s buses. As it evolves, our industry also has the potential to deliver new high-value products such as biochemicals and bioplastics.
Urban design will require planners to balance the need to minimise waste while maximising energy and nutrient recovery, against severe space limitations. Efficient, high quality recycling services will be vital.