Labour Councillors have called on Westminster Council to start a food waste collection service in line with Government guidance and standard practice in many other London boroughs.
Improving food collection services for residents is widely recognised as crucial by environment experts. Twenty per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions are caused by food waste, and food waste disposed of in an environmentally damaging way can lead to the release of methane – which is five times more poisonous than carbon emissions.
In December 2018, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove published the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, which aims to eliminate food waste going to landfill by 2030. It looks to encourage food waste being used for energy production through a process known as ‘Anaerobic Digestion’ (AD) – an efficient form of producing energy which can only be used by separating food waste from other types of waste and through which natural fertilisers are produced. Mr Gove has been unequivocal in condemning current practices, stating that “food waste is an environmental, moral and economic scandal. It’s necessary that we take steps to ensure waste material is used more responsibly.”
Disposing of food waste in landfill and incinerators also costs councils more than using it for AD, so it makes little financial sense.
However, Westminster Conservatives have opposed the Government’s ambitions to tackle the food waste crisis. At the last Council meeting on 23rd January, Cabinet Member for the Environment Councillor Tim Mitchell, said he opposed introducing a food waste collection service for residents.
Councillor Mitchell’s stance also contradicts Westminster Council’s own Municipal Waste Management Strategy 2016 – 2031 which states that it will “introduce household food waste collection services where cost effective”.
Dragging their feet on the introduction of food waste collection services would leave Westminster as one of the very few London boroughs not currently providing the service to residents – neighbouring boroughs like Kensington and Chelsea, Camden, the City of London, and Southwark either already provide a service or are running a pilot.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour’s Environment and City Management Spokesperson, said that:
“Westminster is one of the few London boroughs that hasn’t at least brought forward a pilot to provide a food collection service for residents – it needs to stop dragging its feet and do its bit to save the environment.
“Labour recognises collection services in the Central Activity Zone and areas which are predominantly residents living in flats can be challenging. That’s why we’d like to see a pilot begin in the north of the borough, where kerbside collection services could work well and as effectively as they do in many other parts of London.”