According to MPs, local authorities should be banned from sending food waste to landfill sites to help combat England’s ‘throwaway society’.
Government figures show that in England, 8.5 million tonnes of local authority-collected waste goes to landfill.
According to a report by the environmental audit committee regulations should be introduced to ensure that food waste is separated and sent for organic recycling – similar to Ireland and Scotland.
The report by the Environmental Audit Committee also called for lower VAT on recycled products and longer warranty periods on consumer goods.
The overall recycling rate has hit a plateau in recent years, and currently stands at 43%. MPs called on the Government to support EU proposals to increase recycling to 70% by 2030.
Businesses told the inquiry that the recycling regime in England is confusing and makes it harder for companies to get hold of raw materials that could be reused.
Mike Barry of Marks and Spencer told the Committee:
“The number one thing that [the Government] can do to help us is to simplify the collection of waste in the consumer’s home.”
The committee wants councils to be supplied with guidance in order to standardise recycling collections so that they all include separation systems. This would put an end to ‘the vast array of different area-by-area recycling regimes in England which is confusing, sub-scale and makes it harder for companies to access valuable materials that could be reused’, it said.
Committee chair Joan Walley said a ban on sending food waste to landfill together with measures such as lower VAT on recycled products could all contribute to a ‘circular economy’.
‘The good news is that with the right Government support we can stimulate UK manufacturing, create jobs, grow our GDP and reduce our environmental footprint. We have to create a more circular economy that rewards innovative businesses, values natural capital, and is resilient in the face of rising global resource prices,’ she said.
Mrs Walley added:
‘It is possible to get recycling rates to nearly 70% as other European countries and some UK councils have demonstrated. There is about 3% to 5% of waste that you cannot avoid landfilling at the moment, but with better product design even that might be eliminated.’