Recently DEFRA launched its long-awaited Resources and Waste Strategy – an ambitious policy paper guiding England’s national approach to embrace a circular economy. Commenting on the report’s commitments to minimising food waste, Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, provided the following analysis.
“DEFRA’s Resources and Waste Strategy has been positioned as a national commitment to leaving our planet in a better position than we found it for the next generation. At first glance, the vision seems highly positive – new recycling targets, initiatives to combat plastic waste, PRN reform and the eagerly-anticipated government commitment to zero food waste to landfill.
“However, after reading the report in more depth, you uncover a distinct lack of clarity, loose targets and failure to embrace legislation – especially when it comes to minimising food waste. While numerous ambitions outlined within the report are indeed positive (such as further investment into redistribution schemes, appointing a ‘Waste Champion’ and providing guidance for the supply chain), weekly collections and a ban on food waste to landfill are once again subject to ‘consultation’.
“In my experience, this means delays, doubt and the ability to back-track. Even if the consultation is successful, legislation wouldn’t come into force until at least 2023 – more than four years away. There is also no mention of cost to the householder, details of how such a scheme would operate or the national uniformity of collections. Surely all instrumental questions if we are truly serious on banning food waste to landfill?
“The strategy also fails to outline how England’s food waste model would integrate with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which already operate successful schemes, or how we intend to update our waste infrastructure to make the whole process achievable.
“We need clear government commitment, realistic guidance and a serious action plan to prevent 10 million tonnes of food waste from being thrown away every year. This can’t be optional and certainly can’t be seen as a long-term strategic ambition, ‘subject to consultation’.
“I’d hoped that the Resources & Waste Strategy would have given more clarity and outlined a comprehensive action plan to properly ban food waste from landfill. If we wait until 2023 (subject to lengthy and unnecessary discussions), we watch another 40,000,000 tonnes of food landfilled, maintain our position as the world’s third largest polluter and provide yet another opportunity to back-track on our commitments.
“The business case, both economic and environmental, for banning food waste to landfill has been around for years. Best practice approaches are widespread and should be embraced. While the Resources and Waste Strategy presents an exciting vision, we need to turn this into reality – and fast – to start working towards a more circular economy.”
For more information about ReFood, or the company’s innovative food waste collection and recycling services, visit www.refood.co.uk.