“Def” Visit

I’m now back in the USSR after a great trip to England. One of the highlights of my UK visit was getting an hour with Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for the Environment. In that role, he heads Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

In addition to being quite down to earth, he definitely ‘gets it.’ Benn understands that sending food to landfill makes no sense, because it leads to methane (mee-thane, as they insist on calling it). And so (the) government is trying to reduce food waste.

When I asked Benn what role government has in reducing food waste and he answered that they’re raising the issue in general, generating debate on the topic, encouraging retailers to make changes and suggesting that local councils recycle food waste. And Defra fund WRAP, which researches food waste and prompts individuals to waste less.

In terms of direct action, government’s main role thus far has been the landfill levy. The ¬£8 per ton(ne) tax on sending items to landfill began in 2008 and will rise by that same amount¬† annually. So each year it’ll get more expensive to throw out food (and other items), creating an incentive to reduce waste. Brilliant!

And if that doesn’t work fast enough, Benn and Defra are looking at banning food waste from landfills and will issue a “consultation early in the New Year.” I’m all ears.

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