Householders will have to sort their food waste into a separate bin from 2026, East Suffolk Council has said.

Under the plans, each household will have a 23-litre food bin to be left outside the home which will be collected weekly, with a smaller five-litre caddy for the kitchen.

The move, decided at the council’s cabinet meeting earlier this month, is to ensure compliance with the government’s Simpler Recycling rules to create more uniform waste collection practices across the country, with food waste collections as a statutory requirement from April 2026.

East Suffolk Council, which a group of Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors won from the Conservatives last year, has been allocated £2.4m from the government’s New Burdens Funding to cover the cost of purchasing around 40 new bin lorries and containers. Each lorry will run on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) to reduce emissions.

The scheme is expected to create 40 new jobs.

A report prepared for the East Suffolk Cabinet meeting on March 5, said: “We will also run a food waste reduction campaign to highlight the need to reduce food that is wasted – this will involve communication campaigns, liaison with community groups, education and so on.

“The new containers that will be required for the food waste collection service – kitchen caddies and external bins, will be procured with sustainability in mind, seeking products that best utilise recycled materials and will provide longevity in service.”

But Conservative councillor James Mallinder has major reservations about the plan, suggesting that asking residents to sort bins at home is a big ask.

East Anglian Daily Times:

He said: “I care passionately about making sure this council does the right thing environmentally. It makes sense not only economically but also environmentally to reduce the food waste across our district to a minimum to limit the number of collection trucks needed and this will in turn reduce the increase in the carbon output of the council.

“Under the last administration I worked hard to reduce the carbon footprint, now it seems the Green party want to increase the footprint of the council - this makes no sense.”

East Anglian Daily Times:

Councillor Caroline Topping, the Green Leader of East Suffolk Council, said: "I’m surprised that a Conservative councillor is seeking to criticise the current administration for a scheme which we must implement as part of his government's Resources and Waste Strategy. Additionally, the report we brought to Cabinet could not have presented our commitment to reducing food waste any more explicitly, so I am not sure why Cllr Mallinder is trying to score political points here. 

"The report clearly explains that we will deliver a comprehensive food waste reduction campaign, and that any additional equipment will be procured with sustainability in mind, seeking products that best utilise recycled materials and will last. Any new vehicles will all have hydrotreated vegetable oil fuel-enabled engines, which reduce emissions and have already cut our carbon footprint as part of our existing fleet.

"We are introducing this scheme because the Conservative Government says we must. However, because we have a Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent Administration at East Suffolk Council, our number one priority will be a holistic approach to food waste reduction and collection, which puts our communities and the environment first."

It’s estimated that the UK throws away 9.52 million tonnes of food per year, about £700 per household.

As of October 2023, about half of English councils collected food waste separately.