Bioresources association questions lack of food waste hierarchy

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Efra committee questioned over the Government’s lack of food waste regulation enforcement

The Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) has questioned the Government’s enforcement of the waste hierarchy in terms of food waste being sent to energy from waste (EfW) facilities.

The waste hierarchy is a ranking of waste management options in order of what is best for the environment. The hierarchy is designed to underpin the regulations as set out in the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001.

The waste hierarchy is ranked as followed, with number one being the most desirable option, and number five being the least desirable option:

  1. Waste prevention and avoidance
  2. Reuse waste
  3. Recycle and composting waste
  4. Other recovery (treatment)
  5. Disposal (landfill)

Addressing the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee in Westminster on February 1, the chief executive of ADBA, Charlotte Morton, criticised the Government for not enforcing the waste hierarchy for food waste, following the ADBA’s inquiry into the impact of food waste in England.

Ms Morton said: “If food and residual waste is separated then the waste hierarchy kicks in. But if you mix them then it goes down the hierarchy and it is available for incineration or landfill. This is making it allowable.”

To highlight her point, Ms Morton cited Cornwall council as an example of failing to make a waste management decision based on the waste hierarchy. Cornwall council does not provide a seprate collection for food waste and sends it to its EfW facility.

However, according to Ms Morton, the Environment Agency had a “duty” to ensure Cornwall council had assessed all the options available according with the waste hierarchy, which the ADBA believes is not the case.

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