Defra wants to set up a steering group to investigate ways of maximizing the potential of anaerobic digestion as a means of getting energy from waste.
A document published yesterday said the group would study three areas: knowledge and understanding, smarter working models and regulation and finance.
A full review of waste policy is currently under way and is due to report in spring next year.
Environment Minister Lord Henley said: “While we are working hard to reduce food waste in the first place, we want to encourage anaerobic digestion as a way of recovering energy from waste rather than sending biodegradable waste to landfill.”
He added that the government was committed to working with trade bodies, local authorities, communities and the framework document was “a starting point to find out the best possible way we can produce energy from waste through anaerobic digestion”.
Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “We need to be far more ambitious in getting energy from waste. Today’s document signals the start of a collective approach between industry and government to increase the amount of anaerobic digestion over the next few years. This is a key part of the coalition’s vision of a much greater role for local energy and puts power back in the hands of communities.
“Anaerobic digestion cuts carbon emissions, helps ensure energy security, creates green jobs and reduces biodegradable waste going to landfill.”
The Renewable Energy Association’s chief executive Gaynor Hartnell said the document “signals that government is serious about bringing forward a significant and varied contribution from biogas”.
She added that anaerobic digestion “is the perfect win-win technology, reducing the costs of waste disposal, developing the rural economy, delivering renewable energy in a variety of forms and replacing carbon-intensive mineral fertiliser”.
Anaerobic digestion facilities are already operating in different business sectors in many parts of the country. Harper Adams University College in Shropshire has just completed building of an AD plant to recycle food waste from the campus kitchens; a distillery in Scotland is using AD to produce energy from its manufacturing by-products; and Marks & Spencer last month agreed to buy energy generated via AD from a plant currently being built in Lancashire.