Environment: Look how much cash we throw away...

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British householders spend an astonishing £546m on bin bags every year, a new national report has revealed.

And, as a nation, the UK throws away an incredible 5.4 billion refuse bags annually – an average of four per household, per week - according to the study.

The national study into the UK’s use of domestic refuse bags discovered that the nation’s 26 million homes account for a massive 104 million bin bags weekly.

And, based upon an average cost of 11p per bin bag, or £2.30 for a roll of 20, it has been estimated that it costs UK homeowners an average of £22.88 per year, on top of council tax payments, to dispose of their rubbish.

While a few local councils do now supply a limited number of refuse bags free of charge to householders, most don’t, according to the research, leaving homeowners to foot the huge national bill out of their own pockets.

More worrying, says InSinkErator – the manufacturer of domestic food waste disposers which commissioned the research – is the impact on the environment.

“If householders installed a simple, basic domestic waste disposal unit in their home, it would save the country a fortune on refuse bags,” said the firm’s Ashley Munden

“More importantly, it would massively cut the reliance on landfill in the UK, a huge environmental issue right now. Some 20 per cent of all landfill is food waste – exactly what food waste disposers are designed to harmlessly get rid of.

“We estimate a reduction in the use of and need for landfill by up to 20 per cent, were UK councils to adopt waste disposers.”

Landfill is one of the biggest environmental problems facing UK councils in 2011.

Landfill tax, payable by local councils and levied from householders through council tax payments, costs nearly £50 a ton.

Although the amount dumped in landfill has been decreasing, Britain is facing fines from the European Union if it does not see further reductions.

There is also pressure from the environmental lobby because food waste causes rotting landfill, which produces methane - a bigger contributor to global warming than CO2.

In the UK, 6.7 million tonnes per year of wasted food (purchased and edible food which is discarded) amounts to an annual cost of £10.2 billion. This represents costs of £250 to £400 a year per household.