Feeding pigs

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.”

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  • Murray Kerr  On March 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Great to see this very responsible approach to food waste in our country, please do keep at it!
    There is something wrong in the world when their are people starving at home & abroad yet individuals, companies and beauracracy insist on wasting food

  • Riven  On March 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Its completely barking that we are not allowed to feed kitchen scraps to our own garden hens.

  • Paul Bemmy Down  On March 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I remember the days when we had a “pigbin” and everything edible went in there. I think you make some really good points, especially regarding emmissions, and must confess it’s something that had not occured to me. Unfortunately, when common sense raises it’s head, it usually gets nowhere, but I wish you luck here.

  • quietzaple  On April 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I am appalled to learn from a Waitrose shop assistant that they throw good food – such as mature, award winning cheddar – away if it isn’t sold. Staff are not permitted to buy it and it is not given to local poor or via churches or other institutions.

  • Henry  On May 28, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Support the previous reply – Sainsbury’s would rather feed bread to pigs than reduce the price to allow poor humans to buy it – this type of logic gives recycling a very bad name.

  • John Castle  On May 21, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Interesting last two posts. I was in a Sainsburys yesterday. Passing the bread I noticed someone holding two loaves of bread for the yellow-label price marking person to reduce. Figuring that stuff marked with that day’s date was eligible I found two nice Taste the Difference loaves which I like for toast. The perfectly nice assistant told me that those wouldn’t be reduced but would be sent for animal feed. So the shoddy bread gets sold to people, the nice stuff goes to pigs! I agree with the poster above – this has little to do with recycling and lots to do with brand price maintenance.

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