Conservatives and Labour row over food waste landfill ban


A row has broken out between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party over a ban on sending food waste to landfill.

However, this row is not on the environmental benefits of the policy, but on the cost to the nation’s finances.


At a press conference hosted by the Conservative Party, an 82-page document was launched that highlighted why it believes a Labour Government after the General Election in May would mean an extra £20.7 billion in unfunded spending commitments.

This document was costed by the Treasury using assumptions from the Conservative Party.

One of the key policies among these was a food waste landfill ban that was spoken about by then Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh at the Labour conference in September 2013 in which she said a Labour Government would ban food waste from landfill.

According to the Treasury costings based on Conservative assumptions, this would cost £475 million in 2015-16 and 2016-17, £470 million in 2017-18, and £465 million in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

However, Labour dismissed the claim as this policy had not been agreed at its National Policy Forum and would therefore not be taken forward.

In a statement, the Labour Party said: “They [the Conservatives] say it’s Labour policy to ban food waste from landfill, based on an out of date 2013 quote. This is not Labour’s policy – it was not agreed at Labour’s National Policy Forum in July 2014 and is not in the NPF document.”

The assumptions made by Conservative Party special advisors, on which the Treasury had to base its calculations, make for interesting reading and could be said to look unrealistic with implementation assumed to take place within a year for example.

These assumptions were:

  • Assume food is banned in landfill from 2015/16
  • Assume local authorities make alternative arrangements to deal with food waste that does not involve landfill
  • Assume 100% compliance with the opposition’s ban on food waste in landfill
  • Assume the policy applies only to England – where the UK government has the power to apply it.


The Treasury also looked at the collection and treatment costs borne by local authorities based on these assumptions. It said that there would be no initial cost, but costs would rise to £16 million in year two, £27 million in year three, £34 million in year four and £38 million in year five.

Involved in the Press Conference were Chancellor George Osborne (pictured), Home Secretary Theresa May, Leader of the House of Commons William Hague, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Culture Secretary Sajid Javid.