A ban on sending leftover food to landfill is what is needed to put an end to the “disposable society”, MPs have urged.
A new report from the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is calling on the Government to ban councils from sending food scraps to landfill and ensure separate food collections for composting.
Longer warranties for consumer goods, increased recycling and lower VAT on recycled products could also help make the UK use resources more efficiently, according to the report.
EAC chairwoman Joan Walley said: “We had throw-away economics in the past but that disposable society simply isn’t sustainable in the 21st Century.
“Less than half of all the stuff we throw away each year is recycled and turned back into something useful, despite prices for raw materials rising across the world.
“Global food prices have roughly doubled since the beginning of the century, metal prices have trebled and energy prices quadrupled.
“These trends look likely to continue as emerging economies expand and the world population grows to nine billion by 2050.
“Unless we re-think the way we run our economy and do business in a different way, environmental problems like climate change will get worse and the cost of living and doing business in the UK could continue to rise.
“The good news is that, with the right Government support, we can stimulate UK manufacturing, create jobs, grow our GDP and reduce our environmental footprint.”
Friends of the Earth resource use campaigner Julian Kirby said: “We live in a throw-away society we cannot sustain.
“This welcome report shows a different world is within our reach, where better product design, smarter government and responsible business combine to ensure that our economy and environment can thrive together.
“With the enormous energy, water and land cost of producing food, particularly meat and dairy products, the committee is absolutely right to propose a ban on food waste to landfill – although incineration should also be banned.”
Last year a trailblazing “pay as you feel” café opened in Leeds, using the city’s food waste to feed its customers. The Real Junk Food Project Café has been a big hit since Leeds chef Adam Smith set it up in December 2013.