I wasn’t sure whether there would be any opposition to my Food Waste Bill today. In the past some Tory MPs have been very rude to Vince Cable about the Groceries Code Adjudicator, and some are opposed to any form of new regulations affecting business. Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, used to work for ASDA and I expected that if anyone stepped in to oppose the Bill and push it to a vote, it would be him, but he wasn’t in the Chamber. Instead Anne Main, the Tory MP for St. Albans (who defeated Labour’s very nice Kerry Pollard in 2005, another Kerry but a man) stood up to speak, not to oppose the Bill in its entirety but to raise concerns about my calling for food that wasn’t fit for human consumption to then be diverted for livestock feed. She quite rightly said that it’s illegal to feed some forms of food waste to livestock. I was aware of that, and wasn’t of course calling for anything to be done that is illegal under EU laws, but simply for the waste hierarchy to be followed as will be required by the EU Waste Directive by the end of 2013. Here’s a few words that were in an earlier draft of my speech but had to be deleted for time reasons:
“There are considerable environmental benefits to be gained from using food waste for animal feed (for pigs and chickens) including avoided emissions from producing soya for animal feed, deforestation, and shipping soy to Europe. Feeding unwanted food to pigs can save up to 500 times more carbon emissions than using the same food waste in anaerobic digestion to produce energy.
There is a strong case for reassessing the 2001 decision by the UK and the EU to ban the feeding of catering and domestic food waste to livestock. Lifting the ban cannot be included in this Bill as it would require action at EU level. However, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of food are being wasted annually in the UK which can legally be used as livestock feed.
For example, Sainsbury’s recently adopted the policy of diverting all of its bread waste to livestock feed, in preference to anaerobic digestion. And Tesco’s has started to do the same. One sandwich manufacturer that switched from anaerobic digestion to livestock feed as a way of disposing of unwanted bread made savings of up to £100,000 per year in avoided disposal costs.”