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Food collection regime makes AD standards difficult

Small scale AD plant

Proposed food waste contamination limits in Scotland will be harder to achieve after the introduction of mandatory collections, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has argued.

Food businesses in Scottish towns that generate more than 5kg of food waste a week are now required by law to have it collected separately for recycling, after changes that came into force on 1 January.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) is now consulting on stricter contamination limits for the output of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants used as fertilisers.

Sepa has proposed that if a digestate or compost complies with PAS110 or PAS100 legislation and stricter contamination limits, it may be spread on land without regulatory control.

Current limits will remain in accordance with the PAS guidance for both materials until April 2017. After that, the out-throw limit in PAS110 will be cut to 50%, dropping to 25% in April 2018 and 8% the year after. From April 2017, the current out-throw limit in PAS100 for compost will be 66%, falling to 50% the year after.

The CIWM’s Scottish Centre Council welcomed tighter controls, and noted the initial 50% target for compost mirrored guidance from the quality assurance scheme Quality Meat Scotland.

But it said this target had become harder to meet since mandatory collections were introduced.

“Contamination has increased and engagement with customers has become more difficult for organic waste processors because the customer base has expanded from local authorities to businesses,” it said.

The CIWM added that the 8% digestate limit would cause producers additional burden and take time to address.

“The receipt of packaged food waste continues to be an operational issue for many plants which are already making provision for additional depackaging processes and tighter acceptance controls. The education of the customer will continue to be the issue and target if this is to be achieved,” it said.

The AD & Bioresources Association (ADBA) has welcomed Sepa’s proposals: “In many cases, food waste AD operators are already going beyond PAS110 requirements to produce high-quality digestate products for agricultural markets.”

Sepa’s consultation closes on 29 June.

  • The European Council has adopted measures related to food waste, calling on member states and the EU Commission to improve monitoring and data collection, to focus on prevention of the material, enhancing the use of biomass in future legislation, and to facilitate the donation of unsold food to charities.

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