Central Lancashire councils are told to bring back collections of uneaten food as part of new Environment Bill

Households across Lancashire will soon have to separate their food waste for collection as part of a new Government initiative to cut landfill.

Friday, 6th March 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 6th March 2020, 12:16 pm
Caddies like this are often used in the kitchen

Councils across the county are being asked to roll out the separate collections to all 150,000 homes in the area within three years as part of the Environment Bill.

Neither Preston, Chorley nor South Ribble’s district councils currently offer the service, and they are now looking at ways in which it can be done and funded.

Research from Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) shows that the average UK household wastes eight meals a week, and that around 27,000 tonnes of food is thrown away in the central Lancashire area each year.

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The average household wastes eight meals a week

What happened beforehand?

Preston Council offered food collections from 2005 until 2014, when the service was removed due to costs.

At the time, it was stated that scrapping the service would save the council £86,192 a year, almost £70,000 on staff wages. It would also have meant the authority would not have to replace its ageing food bin vehicle.

South Ribble previously ran collections until 2016, but said it stopped when Lancashire County Council - the disposal authority - deemed it too expensive.

Coun Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, which is looking at options for how to collect and process food waste, along with associated costs

In 2016, the councillors on County Hall’s executive scrutiny committee voted to mothball two recycling plants in Farington and Thornton, and instead send the green and food waste they processed to landfill.

Chorley Council previously collected food waste with garden waste, but stopped after Lancashire County Council looked at costs.

What does Preston Council say?

Preston City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for planning and regulation, Councillor Peter Moss, told the Post: “The need to reintroduce food waste collections by 2023 is something we are aware of and we’re looking forward to working with the Lancashire Waste Partnership to see how this can be implemented across Preston.

“Reducing food waste and diverting that waste from landfill should be a priority due to the environmental impact it has for all of us.

“The government has indicated that funding will be available for this and, along with Lancashire County Council and our neighbouring authorities, we are waiting on the specific detail. By working together it ensures the most efficient and cost effective way for our residents to tackle food waste and recycling.

“Everyone has a role to play in how we can reduce food waste by thinking differently and adopting good habits.”

What does South Ribble Borough Council say?

Councillor Sue Jones, Cabinet Member for Environment at South Ribble Borough Council, said: “The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has outlined its commitment to eliminate food waste from landfill by 2030 and rightly says that councils have an important role to play in this.

“South Ribble Borough Council is committed to working closely with the Lancashire Waste Partnership to bring plans forward to implement the separate collection of food waste, which we believe will have enormous benefits to the environment and our planet.

“The Environment Bill states a target of 2023 – so by 2023, all households will have their food waste collected separately to their other waste. The Government has indicated that they will be providing the financial assistance needed to deliver this service – and we would certainly hope that they keep to their word and honour this commitment.

“South Ribble Borough Council is in the early stages of planning its food waste collection service – and we have meetings scheduled for this month with the Lancashire Waste Partnership where all local councils will be discussing this subject. We look forward to discussing the proposals in detail and delving into the specifics of how it will work.

“The Lancashire Waste Partnership has a very important job in rolling out a successful waste collection scheme and we want to have a big say in how this is delivered.”

What does Chorley Council say?

Councillor Adrian Lowe of Chorley Council said: “Although we offer a comprehensive waste collection service, we don’t currently run a separate food waste collection.

“If the new Environment Bill is passed, we would be required to introduce this and although we are responsible for collections, we will be, to some extent, reliant on Lancashire County Council providing the waste composting facilities to enable this.

“In the past, we have collected food waste as part of the garden waste collection, after a decision by the waste disposal authority, Lancashire County Council.

“However, when this was reviewed by them, at that time, it became apparent that this mixed collection was only made up of a small proportion of food waste. Given the cost of treating this type of waste, it wasn’t viable to carry on doing it this way.

“Councils have an important role to play when it comes to recycling and we are always looking forward at new opportunities to recycle different types of waste. It’s also about looking at initiatives to reduce waste in the first place.”

What is happening elsewhere?

An analysis of data from WRAP shows that Lancashire’s council’s are not alone, with around half of all English local authorities faced with introducing or reintroducing waste collections within three years.

They claim that 35 per cent of councils do provide this service for some or all of their households, 12 per cent have a system where people can dispose of leftovers alongside garden waste, and four per cent offer a mixture of the two systems.

Typically, food waste is collected from houses using a caddy in the kitchen and putting out the scraps in another container outside for collection, or it can be combined with garden waste.

Flats pose more of a challenge, with some given communal bins to empty their caddies in to.

How Lancashire’s councils will ask residents to collect the waste is still to be decided.

What does Lancashire County Council say?

Councillor Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council said: “We’re keen to help people reuse and recycle more, and reduce the amount of waste they produce, and are working closely with all councils in the county as part of the Lancashire Waste Partnership to introduce household food waste collections by 2023.

“We estimate that separate food waste collections will result in up to 20,000 tonnes of food waste per year removed from landfill, and are currently looking at options for how to collect and process it, along with associated costs. We’re also working with Lancaster City Council to introduce a small trial of separate food waste collections for 300 households for six months to inform this process.

“The government is due to consult with councils later this year about our preferred way of ensuring waste and recycling collections are consistent across the country, and we’re working towards presenting the partnership’s preferred approach to food waste collections as part of this.”

What does Central Government say?

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said they will be working closely with local authorities to end confusion over household recycling.

He said: “Nobody wants to see good, nutritious food going to waste and harming our environment, which is why we’ve committed to eliminating food waste from landfill by 2030.”

The Government says its preference is for separate collections rather than with garden waste.

What about the costs?

The Local Government Association said it supported ambitions to reduce food waste, but spokesman David Renard said decisions over separate collections should be a local decision.

He added: “Councils would need to be fully funded to meet new costs from introducing weekly food waste collections, regardless of whether or not they have been providing a food waste service voluntarily.”

What do food campaigners say?

Carina Millstone, executive director of food waste campaigners Feedback, said: “With over 10 million tonnes of food going to waste per year in the UK, food waste is an environmental nightmare of epic proportions.

The good news is that halving our food waste is one of the most effective actions any of us can take to help address the climate emergency.

“Councils have an important role to play - sending food scraps to be composted or to be made into energy is far better than sending it to landfill or to be incinerated, saving around one third of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by binning food.

“However, not wasting edible food is by far the best option. It’s imperative that the Government provides support not only for kerbside food waste collection, but also for initiatives to help us all waste less food in the first place.”