Work kicked off on the new action plan for food waste recycling last week, when key players from across the industry got together for the inaugural meeting in Birmingham; initiated by resource efficiency experts WRAP and chaired by waste and resources specialist, Ray Georgeson.
Together the group will shape and deliver the plan; working to identify tangible, industry led actions to maximise the amount of household and commercial food waste collected and recycled in England.
Food waste prevention will remain a priority, but despite the UK’s best efforts to minimise food waste there is still seven million tonnes wasted every year by households alone – and there will always be a significant proportion of unavoidable food waste. Increasing the volume of food waste recycled could provide a huge boost to England’s plateauing recycling rates and help the UK deliver on the EU target of 50% recycling by 2020.
Marcus Gover, Director at WRAP, said: “At present, just over 10% of household food waste is captured and recycled. This means that the majority is still ending up in the residual waste stream, which is a costly loss for local authorities and a missed opportunity for food waste recyclers. Keeping it out of landfill and channelling it into recycling is an urgent priority, which is why we need the whole sector to work together - and this is exactly what the new action plan is designed to achieve.”
Representatives from right across the system, including waste treatment operators, local authorities, private sector waste collectors and industry bodies attended the meeting, demonstrating the industry’s commitment and desire to explore possible solutions that recognise the shared interests of all parties.
Ray Georgeson, Chair of the Steering Group, said: “There was a real energy and enthusiasm from everyone in the room to work together to assess carefully where we have got to and then identify the important next steps to improve food waste recycling performance.”
“I’m confident that by working more closely across the supply chain, identifying current barriers, and finding ways to overcome these as cost effectively as possible for all involved, we can find the best ways forward and increase the amount of food waste we currently recycle. I’m delighted to be chairing the Steering Group and looking forward to working with such a committed team from across the sector.”
Rory Stewart, Defra Resources Minister, supported the move by industry and said: “From big businesses through to the supermarket shopper – we all have a responsibility to waste less food. It’s great news that UK homes are throwing away 15% less food than in 2007 and together with WRAP we are working with retailers and industry to reduce this even further. But we also need to make sure that where food waste is unavoidable, it is treated in the most sustainable way.
“I want to thank WRAP for this important work and for bringing members of the recycling sector together so we can continue to cut the amount of food waste that goes to landfill.”
During the meeting, the group discussed areas that could become themes for the action plan, including: communication to householders, ways to improve existing collections; and, alternative contractual arrangements to help fund collections. Smaller sub groups have been formed to explore the themes in more detail and will report back when the group reconvene in November.
For more information about the action plan, please visit www.wrap.org.uk/foodwasterecycling