Defra defends non-mandatory food waste collection policy

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The Deputy for Waste and Recycling says a policy for mandatory food waste collections is not necessary

The Deputy Director for Waste and Recycling at Defra has said that the department’s food waste policy ‘is working’ in England, despite the policy not demanding mandatory food waste collection services from local authorities.

The deputy, Chris Preston, spoke at the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum Keynote Seminar on October 20, where he discussed food waste across England.

There have been recent calls from waste industry organisations for the government to introduce legislation to make food waste collections a mandatory service offered by all councils in England; a policy which already exists in Scotland.

However, speaking at the seminal last week, Chris Preston said the current policy was ‘working’ and that it was “not our role to tell people what to do” but to provide the ‘framework’ and ‘leadership’: so that councils do the “the right thing” because they understand the importance of a service instead of doing something simply “through compulsion”.

Mr Preston said that more councils were now providing food waste collections and that the Anaerobic Digestion (AD) industry has increased throughout the country without Defra introducing mandatory food waste collections but with the help of government subsidies.

However, some individuals, including the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association chief executive, Charlotte Morton, and Bristol West MP, Kerry McCarthy, believe mandatory food waste collections are a “no-brainer”.

Speaking at the seminar, Mrs Morton used Scotland as an example of success. Mandatory council food waste collections here have helped increase material availability for AD facilities across the nation.

Ms Morton said: “All of our food waste operator members are starving in terms of food waste, and there is an awful lot out there that isn’t voluntarily coming out of councils and is not voluntarily moving over… “What is holding back the decision…?”

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