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European rule changes 'could damage AD industry'

Anaerobic digestion firms have warned that proposed European end-of-waste rules could damage the industry in the UK.

The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) said the new criteria could create damaging uncertainty if adopted by the European Union.

The creation of European end-of-waste criteria for ‘biodegradable waste subject to biological treatment’ has been welcomed by the industry - but there are widespread concerns about the current proposals.

In particular, it is feared that the proposed “positive list” approach to input material – where allowed rather than banned material is listed in regulations – will stifle innovation.

The UK AD industry, while still in its development stages, has a vital role to play in meeting landfill targets. WRAP last year launched a £10m fund aiming to support 300,000 tonnes of annual capacity to divert food waste from landfill by 2015.

In its submission to an EU consultation on the proposed rule change, ADBA said that it was “vital that such proposals do not create uncertainty or a hiatus, which could seriously impede [the UK industry’s] progress.

“ADBA is therefore keen that the proposed criteria are – as far as possible – no more difficult to meet than existing standards.”

One AD operator told ADBA: “Generally the proposals have an enormous potential for damage to the industry in the UK if it means that producers can’t meet the new tighter limits and it means that they just go back to treating digestates as waste.”

ADBA is also keen that operators that have already achieved existing UK standards are not required to go through a new process to meet European criteria.

There are further concerns that minimum stability requirements are “expensive and unobtainable”. ADBA said: “it will cause huge problems to plants treating biodegradable waste from municipal and commercial sources”.

The draft proposals will now go before the European Commission‘s Environment Directorate General for drafting into final proposals and scrutiny by the European Parliament and Council.  

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