Tough action needed to force people to recycle food waste properly

Eliminating food waste from landfill sites is one key way to make the planet more environmentally fr

Eliminating food waste from landfill sites is one key way to make the planet more environmentally friendly - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Experts say more rigorous action may have to be taken to stop excessive amounts of food waste from being ultimately dumped in landfill.

County councillors were told just 10% of food waste is recycled by the average Essex household - with the rest thrown in their general waste collection.

Malcolm Buckley, cabinet member for waste reduction and recycling, said that level of wastage would have to be addressed and said food waste was "a crime".

He was speaking as Essex Council Council’s cabinet discussed the sign-off for a new contract for the disposal of bio waste in the county.

Mr Buckley said: “There is still food waste being put in the residual waste bags and that is something of concern that we are working with collection authorities to try to discourage.

“And I think some of the proposals in the Environment Act will actually help us in that respect because when we do actually analyse the amount of the waste that’s in there, and you look at what should be in there, the two are very different.

“And I think inevitably there’s going to become a situation where collection authorities have to take rather more rigorous action to ensure that people do separate the materials. The Environment Act is a step in the right direction.”

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The proposed new five-year contract aims to provide an “economical and sustainable disposal option for segregated municipal food and green waste as well as transfer and haulage”.

Essex County Council says the existing Biowaste Framework does not provide adequate long-term capacity and financial security for this material.

The new contract aims to overcome this by locking in processing capacity with suppliers for a minimum term of five years to provide suppliers with longer-term security.

A report from Wrap which promotes and encourages sustainable resource use says that UK households still waste 4.5m tonnes of food a year that could have been eaten, worth £14billion.

This amounts to £700 for an average family with children.

Mr Buckley added: “Food waste is something of concern I think not only morally but also financially and I think to throw food away really we should almost be viewing that as a crime.”