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Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department has given to local authorities on the public health implications of requiring households in areas with a compulsory recycling scheme to store waste food separately before it is collected; and if he will make a statement. (89684)

This Department has not provided any specific guidance on the public health implications of requiring households to store waste food separately before it is collected. Section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 both empowers local authorities to specify the conditions of the waste collection service they provide, and requires them to inform the recipients of those conditions by way of a section 46 notice. The local authority can, under the Act, request that householders place their waste for collection in receptacles of a specific kind and number.

Sealable waste containers for external storage are provided free of charge by the majority of local authorities operating separate food waste collections and around half provide kitchen caddies for household kitchens.

The Department of Health has confirmed that the storage of household waste for periods of up to two weeks is unlikely to increase levels of biological material carried in the air, either indoors or outdoors, providing that the waste is sealed in the correct container. As far as the Department is aware all food waste only collections are weekly, so storage for any longer periods of time should not be necessary.

In addition to local authority collections, the Government also encourages home composting as a good way of diverting biodegradable waste from landfill. The Waste and Resources Action Programme is working with local authorities and other partners to improve the uptake of home composting through the distribution of one million home composting bins to households across the country.