Biogas trade body calls for decisive action to fulfil industry’s decarbonisation potential

The World Biogas Association (WBA), the trade body for the biogas industry, has issued a series of recommendations on how governments, financial institutions and other key decision-makers can support the industry in fulfilling its decarbonisation potential.

This follows on from the recent publication of WBA’s Global Potential of Biogas report, which claimed that biogas, produced by anaerobic digestion, could reduce world greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 12 per cent.

An anaerobic digestion (AD) plant
An anaerobic digestion (AD) plant

The recommendations focus on the need to move away from fossil fuels and invest in alternative energy sources by developing the anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas industry.

The WBA recommends that AD should be included in national pledges to reduce GHG emissions and should be at the core of circular economy strategies. Targets should be set for the production of biogas, with AD nominated as the preferred treatment method for all biodegradable waste, according to the WBA.

The recommendations also include policies to increase biodegradable waste capture, for example, by developing separate food waste collections and mandatory food waste collection and treatment for businesses of a certain size.

The development of a robust infrastructure to enable the collection and processing of feedstock is also necessary, according to the WBA.

WBA President David Newman said: “We will not meet climate change targets unless there is a level playing field put in place to support low carbon alternatives to fossil fuels for energy generation, such as biogas.

“Our industry, in particular, offers greater benefits towards the development of a sustainable circular economy, turning harmful organic wastes into green electricity, gas and transport fuel, and also into a zero-carbon fertiliser that restores the soil and boosts crop yields; it brings economic growth through employment and cost-savings and promotes health and well-being through better living conditions.

“The technology is mature, but we are currently processing only two per cent of the feedstock available globally. All we need to unleash this huge potential is the political and financial will to build the policy, regulatory and operational infrastructure that we need, but time is running out.”

Niclas Svenningsen, Head of Global Climate Action for UN Climate Change, echoed the WBA’s recommendations in his keynote speech at the World Biogas Summit in July: “There is a tremendous potential for biogas to be a significant building block in the climate and energy plans for the UK, EU and the world.

“With the right incentives, the right policies and the right support, biogas can and will offer key opportunities for many countries to help implement the Paris Agreement, and address several of their Sustainable Development Goals. It needs to be at the table when the future policies of governments are designed.”

The UK Government has made significant efforts to improve the collection of organic waste, with the Resources and Waste Strategy confirming its plans to introduce separate food waste collections to every household in England by 2023.

A report by food waste recycling company ReFood – launched at the UK AD and World Biogas Expo in July, which ran alongside the World Biogas Summit – revealed that the UK has reduced the amount of food waste going to landfill by almost two million tonnes since 2013.

In Scotland, food waste recycling increased by 40 per cent between 2013 and 2017, saving thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions, according to Zero Waste Scotland.

The scale of the food waste challenge is clear, with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimating that the UK wastes 10 million tonnes of food a year. This is a worldwide problem, with global food waste potentially rising by almost a third by 2020, with more than two billion tonnes of food being binned annually, according to research by the Boston Consulting Group.

You can read the full list of recommendations on the WBA website.

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