Planes could be powered by household rubbish under a new government scheme.
Ministers are offering £22million of funding for research to develop low-carbon, waste-based fuels for planes and lorries.
They hope that rather than so much rubbish ending up in landfill, new technologies could be developed to harness its power to fly planes.
The move follows grants to encourage the take-up of ultra-low emission electric vehicles, and plans to ban all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Ministers are offering £22million of funding for research to develop low-carbon, waste-based fuels for planes and lorries
Department for Transport figures show that aircraft and lorries powered by waste fuels could use up to 90 per cent less carbon than traditional fossil fuels.
Trials of sustainable jet fuel made from waste materials have already taken place in Europe and North America. Under these schemes, waste from landfill is heated in a low-oxygen environment producing a gas that can be condensed into a liquid fuel.
Around 70 groups have expressed an interest in bidding for the DfT funding.
Transport minister Jesse Norman said: ‘We are committed to cutting carbon emissions and promoting new environmentally friendly fuels that will help us meet that goal.
‘We are making funding available to innovative businesses which will lead the way in developing alternative fuels that are efficient, sustainable and clean.
‘We want every new car and van in the UK to be zero emission by 2040, but we know lorries and aeroplanes will rely on more traditional fuels for years to come so we must promote environmentally friendly alternatives.’
The new fuels are chemically very similar to conventional fuels, so can be used in existing aircraft without the need for engine modifications.
It is hoped the Government funding will help develop five new low-carbon fuel plants by 2021.
Transport minister Jesse Norman said: ‘We are committed to cutting carbon emissions and promoting new environmentally friendly fuels that will help us meet that goal
The money is available to projects producing low-carbon waste-based fuels to be used in planes and lorries where it is not currently viable to switch to electric power because the vehicles are too heavy.
Aviation consultant John Strickland said the announcement was a positive step for airlines.
He said: ‘Airlines are always looking to improve their environmental credentials and improve fuel efficiency. This move will be welcomed but widespread adoption would still be some way off in the future.’
The DfT claims low-carbon transport fuels made from waste materials could be worth £600million to the British economy by 2030 and support up to 9,800 new jobs.
The government’s funding for the schemes would be matched by money from industry.
It is hoped that British experts will conduct pioneering research in the waste fuel sector, outstripping competitors in Europe and the US.
The money is available to projects that will produce low carbon waste-based fuels, to be used in planes and lorries where it is not viable today to switch to electric power, because of the large weight of the vehicles.
The department said that the Future Fuels for Flight and Freight competition is part of the government’s Modern Industrial Strategy, which sets out to support evolving industries with the potential to boost the economy.
The government is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and transport emissions must be slashed if we are to meet that target.
Biofuels made from waste products could be even more sustainable than current crop-based biofuels, already used in some road-based vehicles.