London – stop wasting food!

19 February 2015

London’s landfill sites are expected to be full by 2025[1],

With food waste accounting for around 20 percent of domestic waste[2], the London Assembly Environment Committee has published a report which highlights the need for local authorities to address the way they deal with the food that Londoners are throwing away.

The report; ‘Bag it or bin it? Managing London’s domestic food waste’, examines how household food waste is managed and explores strategies to make recycling easier and more cost-effective for residents and local authorities.

Of the 33 London boroughs, only 23 were found to be offering any separate food waste collections, with 16 not offering any separate collections for flats. As a result, half of London’s households are left without the option to recycle.

The Committee is urging all local authorities to implement separate food waste collections, regardless of property type, to improve consistency and the capital’s overall recycling performance.

The report asks the Mayor to help secure Government resources for separate collections and to do more to support schemes like the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and Recycle for London. He must also ensure that the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) can continue its programmes to support boroughs in the long term.

The report highlights that new treatment facilities are also needed as an extra one million tonnes of food and green waste will have to be processed to cope with London’s growing population. Currently around half of London’s separately collected food waste is sent to composting and anaerobic digestion facilities outside London to be treated.

Chair of the Environment Committee, Stephen Knight AM, said;

“At 34 per cent, the capital has one of the lowest household recycling rates in England and rates for inner London are even lower, at just 16 per cent. When we take a closer look at how London’s boroughs are performing we are seeing a concerning lack of consistency, with 10 boroughs still not collecting any household food waste at all.

We realise that cost is a major factor when local authorities’ make recycling choices, but separate food waste collection schemes need not be more expensive. Effective food waste collection will reduce the amount of waste generated in the first place, potentially making the service cost-neutral.

If London is to maintain its status as the second most sustainable city in the world[3], we need to be informed about what is available to us, so we can play our part and stop wasting food.”

Notes for Editors:

1. Bag it or bin it? Managing London’s domestic food waste (attached).

2. Based on figures from The Impact of Love Food Hate Waste, Local authority collected waste: annual results tables and Compositional estimates for local authority collected waste and recycling in England, 2010/11.

3. According to the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index.

4. Stephen Knight AM, Chair of the Environment Committee, is available for interview – see contact details below.

5. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Mary Dolan on 020 7983 4603. For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.