Nearly half of UK councils still don’t recycle kitchen leftovers

27th June 2021 | Recycling

More than 27 million Britons are sending their uneaten household food to environmentally damaging landfill sites or incinerators because councils are failing to collect the waste separately. A Mail on Sunday investigation revealed that every year more than five million tons of food discarded in UK homes is left to rot, poured down the drain, or burnt – producing harmful greenhouse gases.

Official figures suggest that if every council in Britain offered a separate food waste collection, it would have the same environmental impact as removing 300,000 cars from the road every year. Experts say 40,000 tons of food waste can be converted into enough electricity to power up to 3,000 homes. It can also be used as fertiliser, which can in turn be used to grow more food.

Kitchen Leftovers

But nearly half of councils still do not collect household food separately – making it impossible to recycle the waste in these ways. British households bin more than 6.6 million tons of food every year, of which 4.5 million tons are edible.

The Mail on Sunday is calling on the nation to cut its waste by 30 per cent as part of our War On Food Waste campaign. But we are also urging local authorities to play their part by processing this waste and speeding up the introduction of a separate weekly food waste collection ahead of the Government’s 2023 deadline.

The investigation found:

  • Four in every ten local councils across the country fail to offer households a separate food waste collection.
  • More than 80 per cent of food discarded in homes – 5.3 million tons – goes to landfill or is incinerated, while only 12 per cent – 780,000 tons – is recycled by councils in an environmentally friendly way.
  • Nearly a quarter of councils that collect food waste separately offer only a fortnightly collection, leading to overflowing bins of rotting food that attract rats.
  • Councils that claim offering a separate food waste scheme is too expensive have been accused of squandering money elsewhere.

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