How Food Waste Could Feed Another Billion Poeple; and the scandalous impact of plastics on our environment.


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Call To End Food Waste. Click here:

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Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

 

My Lords, has the Minister had a chance to study reports from the Institute of Engineering and the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene which state that between 6% and 10% of greenhouse gases are produced by food waste, that around 100 million tonnes of food was dumped in Europe in the course of the last year alone and that, worldwide, if the food that is being wasted were available to eat, it would feed 1 billion people who are estimated to be without food or hungry today?

Lord Bates (Minister, Conservative)

The noble Lord is absolutely right. Of course, as part of our clean growth strategy, we have an ambition to reduce the level of food waste by half by 2030. The Courtauld initiative is also aiming to reduce food waste between 2015 and 2025. It is also part of the ambition of sustainable development goal 12. So all the strategy, all the rules and all the ambition are there—we just need to see the action.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL3870):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the decision of the East of England Co-op to sell food after the best-before date, in order to help reduce food waste; and whether they intend to encourage other supermarket chains to do the same. (HL3870)

Tabled on: 05 December 2017

Answer:
Lord Gardiner of Kimble:

Selling food beyond its best before date is not a food safety issue. The Government encourages all food businesses, large and small, to use the updated Waste & Resources Action Programme guidance to help them put the right date mark on food and help to guide people on the refrigeration and freezing of products which are crucial to reducing the amount of edible food thrown away.

Date and time of answer: 13 Dec 2017 at 15:24.

House of Lords Tuesday November 28th 2017

 

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UK ‘faces build-up of plastic waste’

House of Lords January 9th 2018

My Lords, can the Minister tell us what percentage of the some 500,000 tonnes of plastic waste that are estimated to be exported from this country to China each year are actually capable of being recycled? Further, in his response to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, he did not say anything about incineration. There has been some speculation that the Government might support incineration, but would that not be simply adding one environmental degradation to another?

My Lords, I used the phrase energy recovery. That is via the use of incineration and the source of fuel it provides is a much better use than landfill. Moreover, landfill quantities have been reduced dramatically. Some 3.7 million tonnes of plastic waste are created in this country of which 0.4 million tonnes is sent to China. That actually represents a reduction from 0.7 million tonnes of waste being exported in 2010, so a reducing amount of waste is going to China. However, it is clear that we need to do better, and that is why we are working on this issue.

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By Roger HarrabinBBC environment analyst: Jan 1 2018

The UK’s recycling industry says it doesn’t know how to cope with a Chinese ban on imports of plastic waste.

Britain has been shipping up to 500,000 tonnes of plastic for recycling in China every year, but now the trade has been stopped.

At the moment the UK cannot deal with much of that waste, says the UK Recycling Association.

Its chief executive, Simon Ellin, told the BBC he had no idea how the problem would be solved in the short term.

“It’s a huge blow for us… a game-changer for our industry,” he said. “We’ve relied on China so long for our waste… 55% of paper, 25% plus of plastics.

“We simply don’t have the markets in the UK. It’s going to mean big changes in our industry.”

China has introduced the ban from this month on “foreign garbage” as part of a move to upgrade its industries.

Other Asian nations will take some of the plastic, but there will still be a lot left.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has admitted that he was slow to spot the problem coming.

The UK organisation Recoup, which recycles plastics, said the imports ban would lead to stock-piling of plastic waste and a move towards incineration and landfill.

Peter Fleming, from the Local Government Association, told the BBC: “Clearly there’s a part to play for incineration but not all parts of the country have incinerators.

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“It’s a challenge – but mostly in the short term… and we will cope. In the longer term we need a much more intelligent waste strategy.”

Any move towards burning more plastic waste, though, would be met with fierce resistance from environmental groups.

‘Wrong answer’

Louise Edge, from Greenpeace, told the BBC: “The government has got us into this mess by continually putting off decisions and passing the buck.

“Incineration is the wrong answer – it’s a high-carbon non-renewable form of generating electricity. It also creates toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

“If you build incinerators it creates a market for the next 20 years for single-use plastics, which is the very thing we need to be reducing right now.”

The government is consulting with industry over a tax on single-use plastics and a deposit scheme for bottles.

Reduce and simplify

Mr Gove told the BBC his long-term goals were to reduce the amount of plastic in the economy overall, reduce the number of different plastics, simplify local authority rules so people can easily judge what’s recyclable and what isn’t as well as increase the rate of recycling.

The UK must, he said, “stop off-shoring its dirt”.

The Commons Environmental Audit Committee said Britain should introduce a sliding scale tax on plastic packaging with the hardest to recycle being charge most and the easiest to recycle being charged least.

There is broad agreement over much of that agenda, but it is not yet clear how the UK will achieve that long-term goal – or how it will solve its short-term China crisis.

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Blue Planet, Plastics, and Their Impact on Marine Life Raised In Parliament , November 22nd 2017

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Lord Alton of Liverpool (Croissbench Peer)

My Lords, did the Minister see the alarming findings of the BBC’s programme on the disposal of plastics and the effects on whales, fish and other marine life described in “Blue Planet”? What advice are the Government giving to local authorities and others to deal more creatively with the disposal of plastics—and indeed the replacement of plastics by materials that can be recycled more easily?

  • Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative, Government Minister)

My Lords, I did not have the privilege of seeing that programme, which I regret as I heard it was extremely good. The noble Lord is right to focus attention on some of the challenges we face. We are improving our position as a nation, but there is much to do. We are in favour of upping the targets that are currently being looked at, and what that improvement will be has yet to be announced—the current target is 60%. The noble Lord is right about the particular problem of marine challenges, which we are also looking at. Black plastics are a particular problem, and we have a working group looking at that.

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