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Waste Disposal

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 23 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to promote anaerobic digestion as a means of managing the disposal of household waste. (269977)

Anaerobic digestion is our preferred option for treating food waste—it has significant environmental benefits over other options for treating food waste, with the energy generated also offsetting fossil fuel power generation, and counting towards our renewable energy targets. Anaerobic digestion may be particularly cost-effective for food waste if separately collected.

Anaerobic digestion is a key component of the Government’s Renewable Energy Strategy, to be published in June. It will significantly help the UK to meet its binding targets in respect of renewable energy generation, reductions in carbon emissions and diversion of biodegradable municipal waste.

We now need to drive forward the development of practical ways to achieve a major increase in the use of anaerobic digestion. A new Anaerobic Digestion Task Group has been set up, drawn from a broad range of stakeholders to develop an Implementation Plan, which will set out the practical measures that Government and stakeholders can individually and collectively take to increase use of anaerobic digestion.

Government financial support already available to encourage greater uptake of anaerobic digestion includes:

Electricity from anaerobic digestion being now eligible for two ROCs (Renewable Obligation Certificates) per megawatt hour.

Providing around £10 million over the next three years for the anaerobic digestion demonstration programme.

We wish to see a much greater uptake of anaerobic digestion by local authorities, businesses and farmers, but it is local authorities, rather than DEFRA, who are responsible for deciding how waste is managed, as part of their local waste management strategies.