NEW charges for collecting food waste from Somerset households could be brought in under new government plans.
Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow said the government was looking to implement a new statutory charge for food waste collections as part of its sweeping Environment Bill.
The government has pledged to cover the cost of “any additional burdens” these charges place on local authorities and waste partnerships across the UK, to prevent unnecessary rises in council tax.
The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) has welcomed this commitment and said it was awaiting further details on how the new system may work.
Ms Pow, who serves as a junior minister within Defra, confirmed the government’s intentions in a written statement put before the House of Commons on September 8.
She said: “Following support at consultation, we will introduce a statutory duty for waste collection authorities to arrange for the separate collection of food waste from households, at least once a week. We are legislating for this through the Environment Bill.
“We have committed to covering the costs of any additional burdens that local authorities face as a result of new statutory duties requiring them to collect food waste separately for recycling.
“This is in keeping with the New Burdens Doctrine, which requires new burdens on local authorities to be properly assessed and fully funded, so that there will be no increase in council tax as a result of the policy.”
The Environment Bill is currently at the committee stage of scrutiny, with a report on its contents due to come back before the House for further debate after September 29.
The SWP currently collects food waste as part of its weekly kerbside recycling collections.
All food waste collected at the kerbside is transported to an anaerobic digester near Bridgwater, where it is turned in to electricity and fertiliser.
A spokesman for the SWP said: “We understand the important of food waste recycling and its role in protecting our environment.
“Somerset pioneered universal food collection 15 years ago, helping residents drive up their recycling rate from 15 per cent to well over 50 per cent during that time.
“Like other authorities, we await more detail about these changes, especially around what it means for food waste collection from communal properties, such as flats.
“We provide food waste collections to individual communal residents on request, but do not currently collect food waste as part of standard communal collections – it poses particular challenges and is prone to contamination.
“We look forward to finding out more and welcome the commitment to cover the costs of any additional burdens arising from new statutory duties.”
The weekly food waste collections currently in place in Somerset are set to continue as the new Recycle More collections begin being rolled out from October 26 onwards.
For more information on food waste collections, visit www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/food-waste.