Council continues successful food waste collection

Merton Council will be rolling out its food waste collection service to a further 10,000 households next week.

Starting from 28 June Merton residents are set to benefit from the new service, which has been kick started with funding to the tune of £400,000 by WRAP – the Waste & Resources Action Programme.

The expansion of the service follows Merton’s successful pilot involving 10,000 homes across the borough last year. Since September 2009, the council has collected nearly 1,000 tonnes of food waste for recycling. The service will be rolled out in three phases of 10,000 households this calendar year. By mid September 40,000 homes will be taking advantage of food waste recycling. Extra funding from WRAP means that by March 2011, 50,000 households will be included in the scheme.

In the areas where food waste collection is to be introduced, the council will give each household a ventilated caddy to sit in their kitchen and a lockable bin for the garden into which they can empty their caddy when it becomes full. They will also be given a starter pack of biodegradable starch liners so emptying the caddy contents could not be easier. The council will empty the lockable bins on the same day as the recycling and rubbish collections every week.

Currently recycling over 33% of its waste, the borough is now heading for 40% once the 50,000 households are all benefiting from the food waste collection. Instead of going to landfill, the food waste will be recycled into compost. Rolling out the food waste collection services, Merton is set to make significant disposal savings with the current rate for composting food waste at around £50 per tonne. This compares favourably with landfill costs at over £80 per tonne – over half of which is landfill tax.

Results from Merton Council’s survey covering the homes in the pilot last year found that residents noticed a reduction in the amount of waste they put in their black bin liners. They also reported cleaner streets following rubbish collection and a drop in evidence of foxes tearing open bin liners due to their food waste being stored in the lockable bins.

Merton Council cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration Councillor Andrew Judge said: ‘It is great that we will be extending this service to thousands of households across the borough over the coming year. Offering food waste collection to our residents is one way we can both cut down on what we send to landfill and ensure our vegetable peelings and other food waste goes into making something useful like compost. Reducing landfill is not only good for the environment; it is also financially sound as we reduce the amount of money we have to pay in landfill tax too. As is so often the case, green sense makes financial sense.’

For more information and to view a video about the food waste collection, visit http://www.merton.gov.uk/foodwaste

-ENDS-

Notes to editors

Local councils have to pay a tax for every tonne of waste they send to landfill. The amount of tax that a council has to pay depends on the weight of the material the council sends to landfill and the kind of waste the council is disposing of. The standard rate of landfill tax is £48 per tonne, up from £24 in 2007. Over the next four years the tax will increase by £8 each year.