Labour pledges to ban food waste from landfill

By Michael Holder

A Labour government would ban food waste from landfill, shadow environment minister Mary Creagh has announced.

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh

During a speech at the Labour partys annual conference in Brighton yesterday (September 22), Ms Creagh also suggested that her party would increase regulations on food throughout the supply chain if it wins the 2015 general election.

The shadow Defra minister told conference delegates: 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.

The announcement confirms that Labour has opted to pursue the policy, which had originally been mooted by Ms Creagh at a packaging conference in January 2013, during which she said that Labour was seriously considering a ban on food waste to landfill as part of its 2015 election manifesto.

Speaking at the in January, Ms Creagh called for a revolution in the way people look at food waste. She also explained that food waste prevention measures would prioritise human consumption for any food waste that is still edible, followed by use in animal feed, and finally anaerobic digestion for food which cannot be consumed.

And, she added the UK needed a stronger reprocessing sector in order to reduce the reliance on waste exports and provide a sustainable supply of raw materials for manufacturing (see story).

Recycling targets

Further details of Labours proposed landfill ban on food and other policies on waste and recycling have yet to be revealed although the party did publish a discussion document in April which outlined a number of its priority areas for waste and recycling, including setting more challenging recycling targets in line with the Welsh and Scottish governments (see story).

Furthermore, the review document Resource security: jobs and growth from waste suggested that a Labour government would seek to reform the Packaging Waste Recovery Note (PERN) system, which it said incentivises businesses to export poor quality recyclables overseas.

Launched by shadow Defra ministers Ms Creagh and Gavin Shuker in London, the review also hinted that Labour may seek to provide incentives for businesses that design products which can easily be reused or recycled.


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Responding to Ms Creagh’s comments, Steve Lee, chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), 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.”

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