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Labour 'considering' food waste landfill ban policy

11th January 2013

The Labour Party is 'looking seriously' at including a ban on sending food waste to landfill among the policies in its 2015 election manifesto, shadow Defra minister Mary Creagh has revealed.

The MP for Wakefield was speaking at the annual environmental conference of the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) in Warwickshire yesterday and said that the policy was being examined by the Party as part of its ongoing policy review.

The conference also heard from Paul Vanston of the Kent Waste Partnership, who told delegates about the Partnership's work on research into consumer attitudes on food waste.

Responding to the findings of a report published yesterday by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which claims that as much as half of the world's food is wasted, Ms Creagh told delegates that a Labour government would seek to create a 'revolution' in the way in which people look at food waste.

But, speaking at yesterday's session, she said: "One of the things we are looking at is having a ban on food waste to landfill. It is un-defendable that food is wasted and goes to landfill, where it then gives off harmful gases. The cost involved for businesses is simply not good enough, we want to see a revolution in the way in which people look at food."

Ms Creagh explained that the measures would prioritise human consumption for any food waste that is still edible, followed by use in animal feed, and finally anaerobic digestion for food which cannot be consumed.

She added that the policy would be likely to include a 'good samaritan' clause, which would allow food producers and retailers to donate food approaching the end of its life to charities and food banks, without fear of legal action if the food causes illness.

A policy paper on the party's waste and recycling strategy is currently being drafted by Labour's shadow waste minister Gavin Shuker, and Ms Creagh revealed that it could be published as soon as February.

On packaging waste, she commented that food packaging has a key role in preventing waste but said that a stronger reprocessing sector was needed in the UK to reduce the reliance on waste exports and provide a sustainable supply of raw materials for manufacturing industries.

She said: "Much of our packaging waste is exported because we don't have the market for it here. My understanding is that China doesn't want that waste anymore. The global landscape is changing and we need to be ahead of these changes and make sure we have a resolute sector that is responding to those changes."