Call for support for total ban on food waste to landfill

Related tags Food waste Waste management Anaerobic digestion Recycling

Significant public and private sector initiatives look set to spur food and drink processors to meet urgent environmental targets, starting with a call from the UK’s largest food waste recycler.

Prosper de Mulder (PDM) Group issued its Vision 2020 manifesto last month in London. It called on industry to lend written support to a total ban on sending food waste to landfill as the only way to eliminate food industry landfill waste by 2020.

Greater support is still needed for planning approval for recycling facilities, and tax rebates for waste recycling prior to a landfill ban would motivate businesses, said PDM commercial director Philip Simpson: "While a total landfill ban will be needed to truly capture the vast majority of food waste produced in the UK, other drivers will have to be put in place to encourage participation and adoption."

This summer PDM aims to finish an anaerobic digestion plant that will recycle 45,000t of food waste and produce 40,000t of digestate and 2MWh of electricity annually at its Doncaster headquarters in Yorkshire.

Elsewhere, in spite of delays, the Renewable Heat Incentive, which offers cash back for firms generating heat for their processes, is expected to be introduced on June 1. It will bolster the argument for food processors considering installing biomass boilers, offsetting installation costs and improving payback times. It will also make burning food waste to generate heat more attractive against alternatives such as selling it to farms as fertiliser or animal feed. Waste sold as feed can generate more cash for firms than if it were used in other contexts.

Separately, despite speculation, experts believe a review of Feed-In-Tariffs (FITs), which subsidise firms for producing energy to feed into the national grid, will not result in scrapping it. Instead, it will aim to nail down appropriate repayment amounts and determine whether larger energy producers or only smaller players will qualify, said the Renewable Energy Association. It expects the full review to finish by the end of the year, with FITs unchanged until April 2012.

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