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World Environment Day: Council can do more to back local projects tackling our climate emergency, say Greens

Council must back pioneering work to turn food waste into community energy say Greens.

Ahead of World Environment Day 5th June, Greens are urging the council to do more to back a ‘food waste to community energy,’ project run by Brighton and Hove Energy Services Cooperative (BHESCo) that could reduce the fuel bills of hundreds of residents and boost the city’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

The project harnesses a technique for turning food waste into a source of energy known as ‘anaerobic digestion,’ [1] where the gases released by food breaking down can be captured and converted to grid quality fuel.

The company Brighton Paper Round has already partnered with the project to collect food waste that will help BHESCo reach the 35,000 tonnes of restaurant, food and agricultural waste each year,  waste that BHESCo say could supply biomethane gas to approximately 10,000 local homes.

However Greens say that without better support from the council, opportunities to reduce fuel poverty, stop food waste going to incineration and landfill and tackle the climate crisis could be missed. At the very least, food waste produced by our schools, hospitals and universities should be feeding into the process.

A Green amendment to February’s budget included £500K for investment in sustainability and carbon reduction[2]. This World Environment Day, Greens are calling on the council to invest in and promote the project, including initiating food waste collections from householders to stop food waste ending up being incinerated.  Incinerating wet food waste is counterproductive and a waste of a valuable resource.

Green Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said:

“Just last year, Green Councillors pushed the Council to declare a climate emergency, in recognition of the urgent and decisive action that will be needed to tackle the environmental crisis facing our planet.

In February’s council budget Greens won £500K for investment in sustainability and carbon reduction. So our council can take strong action. We also need to recognise that some of the solutions are right on our own doorsteps – in the form of fantastic organisations in the city like BHESCo – who have developed an important food waste project. Turning food waste into energy could help our local residents end their reliance on the high cost, fossil-fuel energy companies as well as tackling waste in our city.

“There is much more the city council could be doing to invest in a greener future. This is a double win: for our council to tackle the environmental crisis and to keep money in our residents’ pockets. As we set out in our Green manifesto, we also believe that the restrictive waste contract with private company Veolia could be reviewed to ensure food waste is being sent to the BHESCo plant instead of incinerated or dumped in landfill. Local businesses could be encouraged to sign up to the project, with the council as a major partner. In line with our calls for plastic-free events, event organisers could be encouraged to donate their food waste too, ready to be turned into clean fuel for our residents.

“With a climate crisis upon us and many of our residents unable to cover the cost of energy bills, we cannot afford to miss the opportunity to create a more sustainable future.”

Kayla Ente, CEO of BHESCo, added:

“This project would establish Brighton and Hove as a  city that is leading the transition to zero emissions. Reducing food waste, tackling fuel poverty, and generating clean, renewable energy, keeping money in our local economy – this project delivers community benefits on so many levels. We hope that the Council will lend its support and help turn this incredible opportunity into a reality.”

NOTES

[1] https://bhesco.co.uk/food-waste  

[2] https://www.brightonhovegreens.org/2019/02/27/green-budget-2019/

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