While the government still drags its feet over action to reduce council tax bills by diverting food waste from expensive landfill through segregated collection services, the House of Commons has acted to send on-site food waste from Parliament’s canteens to anaerobic digestion (AD).
The representative for the House of Commons Commission, Tom Brake MP, recently responded to a Parliamentary Question about Parliament’s food waste disposal strategy:
All catering food waste segregated at the kitchens and food preparation areas is recovered offsite by means of anaerobic digestion to produce methane fuel and fertiliser. No catering waste from Parliament is sent to landfill, and no uneaten food is donated to food aid providers.
We are continuing to identify opportunities to reduce the amount of food waste and to increase the proportion we do generate that goes for recovery. A food waste audit to support this is due to take place later this month in the House of Commons.
Responding to the statement, ADBA’s Chief Executive, Charlotte Morton, commented:
In the wake of recent announcements with new waste recycling targets in the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package and the CCC advice on the Fifth Carbon Budget recommending diverting biodegradable waste from landfill, Parliament has shown that it recognises that anaerobic digestion (AD) extracts the greatest possible value from our inedible food waste – though there may be more they could do to donate unwanted edible food to redistribution charities.
If the UK’s waste strategy followed the example of Parliament and all inedible food waste was diverted from landfill and incineration to AD, then the industry could generate enough additional indigenous green gas to power 750,000 homes. Not only that, but nutrient-rich biofertiliser produced during the AD process improves food production and soil quality, reversing soil degradation trends that are estimated to cost the UK about £1.4 billion each year. AD also has a vital role in decarbonising electricity, heat, farming and transport, potentially reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions by 4%.
If segregating food waste for AD is right for Parliament, then surely the same principle should apply for the rest of the UK.