As the world’s governments convene this week in Paris to negotiate carbon targets and national climate change plans, the UK’s largest renewables trade association, the REA, has reminded the public that many of those on the ground in the UK working in green industries face an uncertain future. Facing a disappointing European Commission (EC) package released yesterday, it has launched a new campaign.
Responsible management of biodegradable waste is argued to be an important part of supporting the UK’s larger move towards sustainability. There is growing evidence that the country faces a number of environmental challenges such as depleting soil quality and from the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels.
Anaerobic digestion (AD), a form of organic waste management, creates resilience to these trends by using resources that we may otherwise send to landfill, particularly food waste. The process turns the waste into biogas (which can be used to heat homes and cook food) and organic fertiliser (called digestate). It provides alternative incomes to many farmers and rural communities, supporting the countryside economy.
However, since the general election, the REA has counted twelve negative policy announcements that have seriously undermined investor confidence in the sector. The AD industry faces up to 89% cuts to the Feed-in Tariff and the loss of pre-accreditation for projects.
In the face of such uncertainty the REA looked to leadership from the European Commission. Mandatory separate food waste collection would have greatly encouraged the industry, which is presently suffering from a lack of feedstock. The industry is frustrated that the package fell short of expectations.
Separately, there is a growing business case for the separate collection of food waste. Reports from Councils and early results from independent research commissioned by the REA indicate that local authorities tasked with waste collection could reduce their costs and improve their balance sheet by collecting food waste separately.
Facing a lack of support from the European Commission on this issue, the REA have publicised its Food Waste Push campaign. Scotland and Wales have already introduced mandatory food waste collection and it is time England did the same.
Jeremy Jacobs, Technical Director at the REA, said: “Our discussions with councils lead us to believe that the collection of food wastes from homes and businesses makes business sense, not just environmental sense. Facing a lack of support from the European Commission on this issue we think it critical to push this cause and support a strong domestic biogas industry. It provides new incomes to many living in rural areas, is a growing source of employment, and enhances our sustainability.
James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the REA, said: “The twelve damaging policies to the renewables industry that have emerged so far, and lingering questions for the AD industry around the Feed-in Tariff and pre-accreditation, are doing serious damage to the UK’s reputation.
In light of this, we have publicised our Food Waste Push. We’re looking for thousands of signatures from the public to back separate food waste collection across the UK. This supports national food production, energy security, and green growth.