Resource Use

Survey to identify spare AD capacity for surplus organic waste

The REA and the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) are to conduct a survey to identify spare capacity across the UK anaerobic digestion (AD) industry for the surplus organic waste created by the Covid-19 lockdown. 

An image of AD plant

The Environment Agency (EA) and other devolved environmental regulators have expressed concern over the large amounts of organic waste arising during the coronavirus crisis, and have asked ADBA and the REA to assess the AD industry’s capacity to take on surplus waste.

The large increase in organic waste arisings is largely down to the closure of markets for food and drink producers such as farms, fisheries and breweries during lockdown. 

The new UK-wide survey will assist in matching organic waste producers with the nearest suitable AD operators and ensure that AD operators have sufficient feedstocks during the pandemic.

By assisting the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the regulators and biodegradable waste-generating businesses to find spare recycling capacity, ADBA and the REA hope to be able to continue to prioritise the recycling of organic waste through AD, keeping biodegradable waste out of less optimal disposal routes, such as incineration or landfill.

While the waste sector has experienced severe disruption during the Covid-19 pandemic, AD has proved largely resilient, with 88 per cent of councils surveyed in the latest Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) local authority impact survey reporting AD and In-Vessel Composting facilities running as normal.

Chief Executive of the REA Dr Nina Skorupska commented: “It is our role as associations to ensure that our members and the wider industry can operate as normally as possible through these unprecedented times. With lockdown measures resulting in a drop in feedstock supplies in AD plants, this survey is a valuable tool that will not only aid the AD operators business continuity but prevent surplus waste from being disposed of in an inefficient and environmentally unfriendly manner.”

Chief Executive of ADBA Charlotte Morton added: "In these extraordinary times, everyone must pull together to address the difficulties caused by the Covid-19 lockdown. This survey of AD's spare capacity to treat various types of organic wastes shows how our industry can proactively play its part in supporting farmers and food and drinks producers with their surplus feedstock.

“Most importantly, it delivers a solution that not only tackles the current waste surplus crisis, but also, by recycling organic wastes into biogas for power, heat and transport as well as biofertilisers for agriculture, sustains the economy and establishes a building block towards a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are proud to deliver such a valuable service to society and urge all AD operators to complete the survey so that our industry's potential to help is fully assessed and realised, now and in the future."

You can view ADBA and the REA’s survey on Survey Monkey.