Waste classification barrier to AD to be removed

The digestate produced by anaerobic digestion (AD) plants will no longer be classified as waste under Environment Agency proposals issued on Monday

The change will facilitate the use of the material as a fertiliser in agriculture.

AD is increasingly seen as a viable option for treatment of biodegradable wastes. It involves mixing and heating wastes in a vessel the absence of oxygen. It produces methane, which can be burnt to generate renewable electricity, and a liquid digestate.

Most anaerobic digesters in the UK are sewage sludge plants owned by the water industry, or on-farm systems used to treat manure. But the government wants a massive increase in take-up to treat other materials like household food waste.

In the Budget, it allocated £10 million to promote the technology over the next three years. AD was also a central plank of last year’s waste strategy.

Under the Agency’s proposals, the digestate will no longer be classified as waste if it is made to BSI’s PAS110 standard.

This requires the plant to process only certain source-segregated biodegradable wastes, but the list of acceptable materials includes everything from household green and kitchen waste to wastes from the food, wood and paper industries.

If the standard is met, the digestate can be used as a fertiliser without a waste management licence in agriculture, forestry and land restoration, the consultation document says.

Meanwhile, the government’s Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has launched a grant scheme for facilities processing animal wastes, including anaerobic digestion plants. Technical report on anaerobic digestate, including its risks

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