Coalition calls for ‘compost revolution’ to avert looming waste crisis

Enrich the Earth, a coalition of diverse organisations such as the National Trust, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), and Suez, launched a manifesto urging an immediate ‘compost revolution’. This movement, comprised of leading experts from various sectors, is advocating for a significant change in the way the UK manages its organic waste. The key goals include raising the percentage of households composting at home from 33% to 50%, thereby potentially averting 1,000,000 tonnes of waste from local authority processing annually, and reducing contamination in UK gardens and food waste bins, which currently costs the UK’s organic recycling sector around £50 million for the disposal of over 350,000 tonnes of plastic.

The urgency of this initiative stems from the fact that UK households produce 14 million tonnes of food and green waste each year. With mandatory food waste collections anticipated to begin in 2024, an additional two million tonnes will require processing. Without prompt action, the country risks a significant crisis. Trewin Restorick, Founder of environmental innovator Sizzle, which brought together the coalition, emphasised the importance of a clear government plan post mandatory collections. He advocated for greater domestic composting efforts, pointing out that while 90% of UK residents have garden access, only a third engage in composting, indicating a vast untapped potential.

Several challenges are outlined in the manifesto. One major concern is the UK’s lack of sufficient processing facilities close to waste sources. Transporting food waste over long distances is not only expensive but also environmentally detrimental. Moreover, sustainable alternatives for the 965,000 cubic meters of peat used in horticulture need to be found. The coalition sees organic waste as a potential replacement, but only if contamination is curbed. Furthermore, a trial launching today in the North East seeks to maximise the compost value from household green waste. The results, which will be openly shared, aim to guide nationwide organic waste management strategies, particularly as an alternative to peat. This aligns with the aspirations of organisations like the RHS, which champions composting as a vital tool against the climate crisis and is working towards becoming entirely peat-free by 2025.