Nov11 - Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum and Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar: Moving towards a 'zero waste' economy: prevention, recycling and energy production
It is Defra’s priority to see a reduction in waste, but if waste is accrued then business opportunities may arise to generate energy from the waste through processes such as anaerobic digestion.
Waste prevention saves energy, but also useful for generating energy. Consensus emerged that businesses and Local Authorities need to think more about using the waste.
Part 1 - Initiatives to prevent food waste.
· The importance of ensuring local government commitment for working with SME’s to reduce waste;
· Companies pointed out the need for ensuring that organisations realise (through awareness campaigns) the financial benefits of reducing food waste;
· Campaigns of waste prevention including WRAP’s are having some impact and should receive greater support;
· Industry (Coca-Cola) calling for the need to go beyond ‘responsibility deals’ and increase nationwide mandatory recycling targets; And
· Consensus emerged that the overriding issue was not technological, but the lack of political clarity and conviction in driving policies.
Part 2 - Opportunities for developing a market for waste.
· Recognition of the potential for converting waste into energy; Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Strategy forms a strong basis for driving this potential forward. Compelling arguments were heard that AD on farms can meet the needs of on-site energy production, and off-set carbon;
· AD has potential to decarbonise the gas sector. A strong business case was made for further investment and support by the government; particularly for small-scale AD, that currently suffers a perception issue that AD has to be large-scale;
· AD lacks the right regulatory and political support. Currently projects for small-scale on-farm AD face mis-guided regulatory barriers, which can be summarised by the following statement: 'I can feed things to my cow that I can't feed to my AD'; And
· Need for better monitoring and measuring of nationwide material flows, as current energy and waste policy is made without evidence.
DECC made explicit that it supports AD and foresees an expansion in the number of stations (implying large-scale). The department stated that it intends to remove any unintended consequences of regulation and a ‘Red Tape’ challenge is to be launched the week beginning 21st November. Furthermore, DECC confirmed that the government’s bioenergy strategy would be published in January. Also confirming a comprehensive review of small scale electricity feed-in tariffs including AD is due to be published soon.