Time to eliminate food waste is running out fast, says PDM

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food waste Anaerobic digestion

Food waste is a ticking bomb that could go off in the face of the food industry, with landfill filling up and bureaucratic delays exhausting all remaining time to tackle the issue.

That's according to waste recycler Prosper de Mulder Group (PDM). Some estimates suggested the UK had under a decade left before landfill was exhausted, said commercial director Philip Simpson. "How much landfill is left in this country? In the UK as a whole it's less than 10 years. In London it's three years."

Certain problems were impeding progress on waste handling, said Simpson, speaking at the London launch of PDM's manifesto calling for a united push to eliminate food waste. "The key barrier is access to finance."

Most grant awarders had outdated rules that didn't fit modern waste disposal plants such as large anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities, he said. "It's difficult to show them a test case."

Local authority planning criteria were similar, although some responded to applications better than others, said PDM chief executive Andy Smith. "We didn't have trouble [with an application for an AD facility] in Doncaster, but in London it's down to job creation."

Some authorities were demanding proposed AD plants should create a certain number of local jobs and this was a problem with largely automated facilities, Simpson explained. "You can't have a modern plant with a lot of people."

PDM is due to finish building an AD plant this summer to turn 40,000t of food waste annually, including packaging, into methane at its Doncaster headquarters. The methane will be burned to generate 2MW of electricity.

The group has secured planning permission for a second plant near Canterbury in Kent and has applied to build another site in Widnes, Cheshire, in partnership with food waste recycler Re:food. PDM also operates five meat rendering facilities.

PDM is trying to create a multi-stakeholder to speed up progress on waste handling.

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