Waste

As the Prime Minister flew to the G8 summit in Japan this week, the Government published a startling new report.

A third of food bought for home consumption is wasted - 6.7 million tonnes - costing the average family £420 a year.

The greenhouse gas emissions this produces are equivalent to one in five cars on the roads.  Using just 60 per cent of the wasted food could generate enough power for all the homes in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

A few hours later, the world's leaders were served 24 different dishes on the first day of their summit.  I wonder if they ate it all.

There are many policy areas where what's needed is a change of behaviour.  Obesity is a growing health problem.  People need to save more for retirement.  And we need to reduce the amount of rubbish we all chuck out.

But I think that the best way to get people to respond is by offering more carrots than sticks.

I still remember the success of unleaded petrol, which took off rapidly because the Government made sure it was cheaper than leaded.

So I was very struck this week by Shadow Chancellor George Osborne's new idea to encourage recycling.

Instead of council snooping and fines, companies would pay people for their recycled waste.

In the US, some schemes pay households up to £25 a month and have quadrupled recycling rates.

We need that change in West Sussex, where still only around a third of our waste is recycled and two thirds goes into landfill.

I've been incredibly encouraged by the formation of Zero Landfill, a new local campaign which brings together Thakeham Village Action, Small Dole Action Group and Chanctonbury Landfill Action Group, who are all opposing tips in their communities.

It's time for national and local government to respond to community concerns with new ideas about how waste is going to be cut.

Michelle Taylorwaste