£295m funding for councils to introduce weekly food waste collections


Food waste

The UK government will provide £295 million in funding for local authorities to support them to introduce weekly food waste collections by 31 March 2026.

Recycling Minister Robbie Moore announced the funding for councils to invest in new food waste containers for homes and specialist collection vehicles today (Monday 25 March).

However, a District Councils’ Network spokesperson told Circular Online that the government has not “accurately calculated the costs associated with introducing food waste collections in some areas”, due to underestimating the number of vehicles necessary to deliver these services.

Commenting on the announcement, Moore said: “Weekly food waste collections are a central plank in delivering a simpler, easier recycling system for all.

“It will help to stop food waste heading to landfill and support our goals of tackling both waste and climate change. We’re backing councils with new funding to ensure the nation can benefit and recycle more.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it developed the funding formula for local authorities in collaboration with WRAP and “engaged closely” with council organisations to discuss the approach.

Defra said the funding formula accounts for the extent of existing food waste collection in each local authority. Other variables include rurality, levels of deprivation, number of kerbside and flatted properties, configuration of flatted properties, food waste yields, vehicle and container unit costs, and average collection round sizes.

It is not realistic to expect district councils to absorb these costs, especially considering the financial pressures facing our sector overall.

Commenting on the funding announcement, a District Councils’ Network spokesperson said: “Defra has advised councils to raise concerns about their funding allocations if this is insufficient, however, we are not aware of any instances of funding adjustments despite councils providing clear evidence of deficits.

“It is not realistic to expect district councils to absorb these costs, especially considering the financial pressures facing our sector overall.”

Last year, Defra announced a new scheme called “Simpler Recycling” to replace “Consistency in Recycling”. As part of Simpler Recycling, most local authorities across England are required to implement weekly collections of food waste by 2026.

Local authorities “not confident” they can fund new Simpler Recycling services

Local authorities

The funding announcement followed a survey by the District Council Network (DCN) which showed two-thirds of councils are not confident they will be able to fund the additional services required to implement Simpler Recycling reforms.

The DCN survey, which was completed by 99 of its 169 member councils, showed that councils anticipate an average shortfall of at least £210,000 to fund the new vehicles and containers required to introduce food waste collections.

This shortfall excludes the capital cost of investing in new or expanded depots which the government has indicated it will not fund, the DCN said.

Commenting on the funding, Claire Shrewsbury, Director of Insights and Innovations WRAP, said: “Weekly food waste collections will give recycling in England an important boost and help reduce the impact of food waste on climate change.

“Our research shows that when food waste collections are introduced, and people see how much food goes to waste in their home, they want to do something about it. And with food waste costing a household of four around £1,000 a year, weekly collections will not only help prevent food waste in the first place but utilise the food waste collected to generate green energy and compost.”

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