Labour would ban food waste from landfill

food waste

The Labour Party would introduce a landfill ban on food waste if it were to come into power in 2015, Mary Creagh MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced.

Speaking to the Labour Party Annual Conference 2013 in Brighton on Sunday (22 September), Creagh said: “I want to show you what Ed Miliband’s Labour government will do in 2015 to help people who work hard, pay their taxes, but who still have to put food back at the supermarket because their pay cheque does not last until the end of the week.”

Pointing to the horse meat scandal, Creagh said that it was the Conservative Party’s ‘deregulation’ of food that had caused the problem to come about. She said: “I think it’s time we had a bit more regulation of our food.

“So here’s what Ed Miliband’s One Nation government will do… A One Nation Labour government will ban food from landfill so that less food gets wasted in the supermarket supply chain and more food gets eaten by hungry children.”

Asked whether food waste would likely be banned for landfill earlier this year, Resource Minister Lord de Mauley said that before introducing any restriction of materials from landfill, government would ‘need to be content’ that it was ‘the best-value way of moving material up the waste hierarchy’ and that the costs to business and the public sector were ‘affordable’. This statement came just days ahead of government’s decision not to place a landfill ban on wood waste, as it believed that the amount of wood waste sent to landfill was ‘likely to continue to decline without further government intervention’.

Food waste figures

According to the Think.Eat.Save campaign, run by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and partners, the world wastes around 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year. FAO’s Director General, José Graziano da Silva, added that just a quarter of that amount would be “sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world”.

WRAP figures show that around 7.3 million tonnes of food waste is produced by UK households each year, and recent data from WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) campaign found that London residents alone could save £79 million in costs by reducing the amount of food waste they produce by 14 per cent.

To help counter the amount of food waste sent to landfill, Northern Ireland’s Department of the Environment last week launched a consultation on introducing restrictions on the landfilling of food waste.

Ireland has already announced plans to ban food waste from landfill, with Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, signing new Household Food Waste Regulations in March of this year.

Scotland's new waste regulations will also see a ban on biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill from 1 January 2021.

Speaking of Creagh’s announcement, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, Steve Lee, said: “The current debate about banning food waste to landfill highlights the seriousness of the issue. In addition to the cost to both society and the environment of discarded food that could have been consumed, the need to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill continues to be a strong policy driver.

“In the short term, we need to strengthen our efforts to raise awareness about the environmental and economic costs of food waste and ensure we have the right infrastructure to extract value from unavoidable food waste. In the medium term, we expect to see further policy measures across the UK governments to tackle this waste stream.”

Creagh suggested that the Labour Party would also introduce the following policies:

  • introducing new labelling rules ‘so that you can work out if those two for one supermarket offers really are cheaper’;
  • putting a duty on water companies to have social tariffs ‘to help the poorest families pay their water bills’;
  • extending broadband access so everyone has broadband; and
  • working with communities to introduce marine conservation zones to ‘protect fish stocks, improve biodiversity and stop the destruction of the seabed’.

Read more about food waste.