Defra study backs weekly food waste collections

Two thirds of households recycle their food waste when councils provide a dedicated weekly food waste collection alongside a fortnightly collection of other waste.

A Defra-funded study, which will be published later this spring, highlights the environmental and economic benefits of separate weekly food waste collections.

The study, which examined why householders do or do not take part in food waste recycling, found only 1 in 10 homes did not see the point in separate food waste collections.

Two in three households said they used their food collection regularly but 23% admitted they had never tried it.

The study, carried out by consultants Brook Lyndhurst, also found dedicated food-only systems capture more food waste than collections that mix it with garden waste.

If combined with fortnightly residual waste collections, this system generated the highest amount of food recovery.

Environment Minister Joan Ruddock said: “Food waste is an increasingly important issue, on environmental, sustainability, climate change and equity grounds.

“There is also the real loss to the economy of so much potential value. This research shows that much more can be done cost effectively to prevent food wastage.”

Defra is also funding work by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to trial weekly household food waste collection systems in partnership with 19 local authorities.

Defra said the early results of the trial suggest that the schemes have been well received and are diverting about 3kg of food waste per week from the households taking part.

The final results of the trial are expected in early June.

Kate Martin

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