Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Exclusive: Councils could face food waste 'name and shame'

  • 1 Comment

Food waste ‘tsar’ Ben Elliott will name and shame poor performing councils and businesses to try to change public attitudes to discarded food.

elliot ben for web

elliot ben for web

Food wast ‘tsar’ Ben Elliott

This is planned for national food waste week from 2-9 November, though Mr Elliott told LGC he also intended to highlight good practice by councils and lessons learned from campaigns.

Mr Elliott, who was given the role by environment secretary Michael Gove last winter, runs luxury services company Quintessentially but said he became involved in food waste after volunteering with a friend’s charity.

He said: “The difficulty I see is budgets and I totally get that councils have problems there.

“The problem is that 70% of the 10.2m tonnes of food we throw away every year is from households, and food waste is not going down.

“I can go after big businesses but 70% is in households and you only get at that by having food waste collections [by all councils] and changing habits.”

Mr Elliott said some councils provided a good service but others “just do not see it as a priority, but this is becoming a greater issue of public concern because of the link between climate change and food waste - its equivalent to one third of car emissions. I think the government will have to get more draconian about it”.

The government’s waste and resources strategy proposes mandatory weekly separate food waste collections but currently only around half of councils offer any form of food waste collection. 

Although wasted food still in an edible condition can be given to charities and food banks, the bulk of the rest goes to anaerobic digestion (AD) and that industry will need more capacity to cope with any increase in food collected by councils.

AD is a process by which food waste is treated in an oxygen-free tank to produce energy and fertiliser.

A spokeswoman for the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association said: “There is some capacity within existing AD food waste plants to absorb the increase of food waste feedstock that we are expecting to see as a result of food waste consistency.

“More AD capacity will be required to take on all the new food waste expected. In terms of securing investment to back the increase in capacity, policy certainty is key.”

The industry though has no certainly that one of its main sources of funding, the renewable heat incentive programme which pays for energy generated through anaerobic digestion, will continue beyond 2021.

Councils in May called on the government to guarantee long-term funding for mandatory food waste collections proposed in its waste strategy.

The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee said such a scheme could only work if there is “long-term guaranteed funding to cover any additional cost burdens” to ensure funding is not diverted from other essential services.


  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Sorry mate we are a bit broke at the moment, government cut our grant by 50% and social care cost grow because of nhs budget shunting and growing needs, we will get back to you when there is a capital grant for set up costs and a bit more grant funding available towards the increased costs of recycling. If anybody names and shames me I might have something to say about funding cuts, very loudly...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.