MPs want all food leftovers to be recycled

The Government should bring in "mandatory collection" of food waste from homes and a ban on leftovers going to landfill to help reduce the amount of rubbish dumped in England, a report by MPs have said.

The Government should bring in "mandatory collection" of food waste from homes and a ban on leftovers going to landfill to help reduce the amount of rubbish dumped in England, a report by MPs have said.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee said the Government should set targets for separate collection of food waste for composting or producing energy, while councils should support households to compost at home.

And schools, hospitals and groups of restaurants - including those in Parliament - should be encouraged to take part in local composting schemes.

The committee said it supported a ban on certain types of rubbish, such as food waste, going to landfill.

The report from the committee urged the Government, which is planning to consult on a landfill ban being introduced by 2020, to bring forward a "more ambitious timescale" to stop certain rubbish going into the ground by 2015.

The committee also said retailers should help reduce the amount of clothes that end up in landfill under the so-called "Primark effect" - with people throwing away cheap clothing.

The committee's chairman, Michael Jack, said: "We take the view, throughout the whole report, that waste is actually a resource. "Food waste has got two key opportunities to be used - either in energy from waste and the other is to home compost. We should stop throwing it away into landfill when we have these two alternatives."

But with less than 10 per cent of England's total waste mountain - which stands at some 330 million tonnes a year - coming from homes, the committee also demanded more action to cut rubbish from retailers and industry, construction, demolition and mining activities.

For example, retailers with a turnover of more than £50 million should be required to publish details of their recycling levels and the steps they are taking to cut their waste.

And food retailers and manufacturers should be required to publish annual figures for the amount of food waste they produce.

In addition, "benchmarks" are needed for industrial and commercial waste, similar to targets which have been set for domestic rubbish, to make it clear if companies are doing their bit to cut waste and boost recycling.

The Efra Committee, which was reporting on its investigation into the Environment Department's (Defra) Waste Strategy for England 2007, praised householders for boosting recycling levels to almost 37 per cent.

But it said the Government should set tougher targets for the future - to see recycling raised to 50 per cent of household waste by 2015 and 60 per cent by 2020.

And with research finding people were more likely to recycle if they knew where the materials they put in their recycling bin ended up, the committee said local authorities should be required to provide information to householders on what happens to the rubbish they put out for recycling.

Councils should spell out to householders just how much it costs to collect and dispose of their rubbish - with a price per bin, bag or wheelie bin, so people fully understand the price of throwing waste away.

The MPs also recommended councils should continue to encourage composting by providing low-cost equipment and advice.

The committee said it supported separate food collections as part of efforts to cut food waste - which accounts for 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, the equivalent of 4 million cars.

And the report urged shops to sell fruit and vegetables which cannot be marked as top class produce and to pass on usable products to charities such as Fareshare which supply food to vulnerable people.

Retailers should also do more to help consumers recycle clothes, for example by providing information in stores about charity shops which take clothing, while labels should also remind buyers not to throw garments into the bin.

And Jack said: "Defra must give a clear lead on what it thinks the potential is for business to reduce its waste levels and increase its rates of of recycling.

"At the same time it must encourage companies to take a completely new view of waste and see it as a valuable source of raw material which must not be squandered in these difficult economic times."

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