The EU Council of Ministers has been discussing waste water and how to recover more of it. Currently about 17% of water is recycled in the EU and there is an argument that waste water contains valuable substances that can be separated and reused for agriculture.
OFWAT, the UK’s water industry regulator, is calling for increased recovery from waste water, including the production of more biogas for sewage sludge. AMDEA’s Food Waste Disposer (FWD) Group has already met them to emphasise the value of FWD in such recovery.
The European Parliament’s Environment Committee is working on guidance on the collection and treatment of bio waste. They are keen to introduce an obligation for separate collection and a recycling target. The Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee is arguing that commercial and industrial waste should be included. They (ITRE) are also suggesting incentives for minimum recycled content obligations and direct price support schemes as well as specific food waste prevention programmes in Member States.
Last month Defra began an inquiry into the economic, social and environmental impact of food waste in England. This is based on findings that the average family spends £700 a year on food that is wasted and suggestions that as much as 60% of this could be avoided. This piece of work will obviously concentrate on finding ways to reduce food waste rather than address its disposal, and refrigeration products are clearly a vital tool to do this.
In wider-ranging consultations AMDEA is keen to argue that undue emphasis on separate collection of food waste, at EU or UK or even England level, risks focussing on kerbside collections which are costly and difficult to operate, ignoring the role that FWD can play.
However, the new waste Minister in Defra, Therese Coffey, appears to be resistant to more mandatory measures. In a recent speech she said that voluntary measures had been effective, arguing that household food waste was reduced by 15% between 2007 and 2012 even though there was a 4% increase in the number of households in the UK.