Image credit: sporkist, used under Creative Commons license.
When I wrote about Qantas Airlines' plan to make biojet fuel from food waste, I worried that there wouldn't be enough food waste to go around. It turns out I was wrong, in the short term at least. There's plenty of food waste—it's just that nobody seems to be able to collect it. It's been over a year since we posted about reports that GB£12 billion (about US$18 billion) of food waste is thrown in the trash every year in Britain alone—but things have not gotten much better. In fact, with government spending cuts hitting municipal recycling programs hard, it looks likely that the problem will get even worse.
In a survey of UK councils, the Independent newspaper has ascertained that less than half of local authorities collect food waste for composting or energy generation, resulting in the equivalent of ten stadiums full of food waste being needlessly disposed of every year. This valuable resource is currently being sent to landfill, or to inefficient and polluting incinerators:
"Food waste that could be used for composting or to generate power is being sent for landfill or incineration. But there is growing opposition to the spread of a new generation of incinerators across the UK. More than 80 sites have been earmarked as part of a so-called "dash for ash", which could see the amount of household waste that is burnt more than double. Many councils also warn that public sector cutbacks mean they can no longer afford to implement rubbish separation and collection plans."
Yet with every local authority in Wales already collecting food waste separately for composting, it is clear that options are available. The next step will apparently be promoting anaerobic digestion as the environmentally preferred method of disposal.