UK Government

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs: Benn: Let’s stop feeding our festive leftovers to landfill

Press Release   •   Dec 24, 2009 10:19 GMT

Lambeth and Islington Councils to get funding

New research from Defra shows that 78 per cent of people support having a separate food waste collection to enable recycling of food, and two thirds of households said they used their separate food waste collection.

Around 230,000 tonnes of food ends up in the bin over the Christmas period – that’s equivalent in weight to 4.6 million whole turkeys ending up in the bin.   This often ends up in landfill, contributing to harmful methane emissions but with separate food waste collections, leftover turkey, sprouts and Christmas pudding could be recycled and turned into compost for local parks, or used to create energy to heat homes.

The local authorities receiving funding are: London Borough of Islington, London Borough of Lambeth, Oxford City Council, Somerset Waste Partnership, Sefton MBC (Merseyside), Broadland DC (Norfolk), Newcastle under Lyme (Staffs), and West Dorset.

The research published today, which surveyed over 4,000 households around the country, also shows that 92 per cent of people who frequently use their council’s food collection find it easy to use.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced earlier this year that Defra was exploring potentially banning some materials such as food from landfill entirely.  Options will be published in the new year.

Commenting on the research published today Mr Benn said:

“How can it make sense to feed our landfill sites with our Christmas leftovers every year when we could be recycling them and turning them into something useful?  Our latest research is very encouraging as it shows that separate food waste collections are definitely working in the areas that are using them, and  - more importantly - people are happy with them.  We would like to see all local authorities collecting food waste as soon as possible and by 2020 at the latest.”

137 local authorities in the UK now provide food waste collections for their residents, around a third of all the local authorities who collect waste, and through WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) the Government has also announced today how £1.3 million will be split between eight local authorities for separate food waste collection.

Mr Benn added:

“It’s not about making it more difficult for everyone to sort out their rubbish, and we’ll be using the evidence from this research plus the experience of the areas introducing or extending food waste collections under the funding announced today by WRAP, to help us make decisions on the next steps.”


Notes to editors

1. The research published today can be found at:
2. More information on food waste can be found at: and
3. More information on landfill bans can be found at:

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