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AD drives UK organics industry growth

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is propelling the growth of the UK organics recycling sector, according to an industry survey.

The survey by WRAP found the total input of organic waste processed via AD increased from 1.15 million tonnes in 2010 to 1.69 million tonnes in 2012 - a 47% increase.

One of the reasons for this increased throughput was a significant increase in capacity between 2010 and 2012, when 34 new AD sites started operations.

There has also been a rise in available AD feedstock since 2010. The largest source is food waste, a third of which comes from local authority collections.

Feedstock input processed by mechanical biological treatment (MBT) has also increased, almost doubling from 1.28 million tonnes in 2010 to 2.51 million tonnes in 2012.

This has been caused by an increase in the number or MBT plants, and the reclassification of some composting facilities as MBT plants.

Composting has grown at a slower rate, by 4% since 2010 to 5.9 million tonnes in 2012.

Ian Wardle, head of organics and energy at WRAP, said: “The report highlights some great things for the industry, particularly around continued growth, improved quality and opportunities to generate higher revenue.”

Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) chief executive Charlotte Morton, said: “The UK is becoming a leading country for AD for a whole range of organic waste streams, including on-site treatment of liquid effluents and food waste from municipal and commercial collections.

“However, we still have a long way to go to realise our potential: the figures show that even with the industry’s growth, AD treats only about 7% of UK food waste. We need to continue to work to overcome barriers to industry development, including food waste policy in England, the threat of degression in the small scale feed-in tariff and continued uncertainty over the level of support for heat use.”

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