£295 million food waste recycling fund a huge opportunity for local councils, says ReFood

5 April, 24
Last week (25 March), recycling minister Robbie Moore announced a £295 million package to help councils fund the introduction of mandatory kerbside food waste collections.

Last week (25 March), recycling minister Robbie Moore announced a £295 million package to help councils fund the introduction of mandatory kerbside food waste collections. Having called for a ban on the landfilling of food waste for more than a decade, Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, believes that this is a huge step forward for sustainability and one that will help to tackle the scourge of food waste once and for all.

“While food waste is widely considered one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our generation, England has continued to lag behind the global pace when it comes to embracing strict legislation guiding best practice disposal. Numerous studies have detailed the financial and sustainable benefits of recycling (rather than landfilling) unavoidable food waste, yet us Brits have remained hugely reliant on dated waste management techniques.

“After years of limited progress, dead-end discussions and numerous government backtracks, it has been a huge step forward to finally see action on food waste mandated within UK law. From 31 March 2026, local authorities must provide containers and regular kerbside collections for their constituents, rather than co-mingling within municipal waste or garden waste streams.

“As a result, household food waste will soon be recycled to generate clean, green renewable energy, rather than being left to rot in landfill. This is an essential part of ensuring a simpler, more effective recycling system for us all, while helping to tackle climate change and accelerate progress towards reaching a net-zero society in parallel.”

However, while the move should be seen as overwhelmingly positive, concern remains from some local authorities regarding the cost and investment required to effectively transition towards this new approach. Containers and bins, not to mention suitable collection vehicles, is an expensive prospect – especially amid shrinking budgets and widespread concern over the future of council funding.

Simpson continued: “It’s hugely positive to read about the funding package set aside to enable the national introduction of separate food waste collections. Each local authority is set to benefit from hundreds of thousands of pounds towards containers and collection vehicles, which aims to make the transition easier and far more affordable for councils to adopt.

“Of course, introducing a completely new collection model comes with high associated costs, but it’s imperative that we consider the long-term opportunities rather than simply focusing on the short-term inconvenience. After all, while implementation may prove expensive, it offsets huge costs elsewhere. By removing food from municipal waste streams, for example, you immediately eliminate up to 50% of the volume of general waste collections. As a result, you need fewer collections, fewer vehicles and less manpower. What’s more, you shave a considerable amount off your landfill tax bill which, at almost £104 per tonne, is a remarkable saving indeed.

“More importantly still are the environmental benefits. As well as offsetting the release of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, you reduce reliance on landfills – which are filling up rapidly. Unless we act now, I can see us needing to export our waste (at huge costs to the taxpayer) in the very near future. The added benefit of generating renewable energy, which will reduce our national reliance on imports, is yet another major benefit.

“So, with all this in mind, I think that local authorities should see this fund as a huge opportunity – not only will it go a long way towards subsidising the implementation of new legislation, but it also accelerates progress towards reaching stringent recycling targets; both regional and national. In the run-up to 2026, it’s essential that we step up to the plate and ensure that food waste collections really help to build a new waste management future for Britain.”

To find out more about ReFood, or its pioneering food waste recycling services, visit www.refood.co.uk.

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