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Food: Waste Disposal

Volume 475: debated on Friday 9 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the effects of kerbside food waste collections on levels of household composting. (202953)

Separate collections of food waste are relatively novel in the UK. In the 19 trials being conducted by the Waste and Resources Action Programme, early indications are that public participation in collections is of the order of 60-80 per cent. Of the food waste being put out for disposal around 70 per cent. is being captured by the food waste collection. The remainder is being disposed of in the residual bin. This excludes any food waste that may be home-composted. Many of the trials are being conducted in urban areas where the uptake of home composting is low as properties have either very small or no gardens. However, a customer survey in some of the trial areas indicated that between 58 per cent. and 74 per cent. of respondents considered that the availability of a food waste collection had not changed what they put in their home composting bin.

WRAP proposes to continue to monitor the food waste collection trials, and will be reporting on its findings in due course.

Some local authorities are trialling the collection of food waste with garden waste collections. The partial evidence available so far suggests that these arrangements are not generally successful in capturing food waste from the residual waste stream, Furthermore, separate research carried out by WRAP in 2007 indicates that the existence of kerbside garden/organic collections has limited impact on levels of home composting by home composting households. The main reasons given are:

1. They consider home composting to be more environmentally friendly and divert as much via that route as they can, using collection services only for items that they decide are unsuitable for home composting (pernicious weeds, large and woody items etc.)

2. As they are keen gardeners they want to make as much compost as possible, and will use the collection service only for items that don't readily compost

3. At certain times of the year their gardens produce an excess of certain waste materials and they will consider using the kerbside service to get rid of this excess material.

The inference is that food waste collected with garden waste has little overall impact on the amount of material which is home-composted.