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AD growth driving organics sector

Growth in anaerobic digestion is driving the organics recycling industry, according to WRAP, despite finding only one plant managing to sell the digestate that the process produces.

Figures from WRAP’s comprehensive survey of the organics industry in 2010 released this week, show the number of permitted AD sites leapt 182% from 17 to 48 in 2009.

Total input of organic waste processed by AD topped the one million tonnes mark for the first time in 2010.

In total the industry recycled 7.23m tonnes of organic material through AD and composting.

Composting inputs grew by 3.9% to 5.44 million tonnes, and 273,400 tonnes of organic waste fraction was processed by mechanical biological treatment plants.

Ian Wardle, head of organics at WRAP, said: “This study illustrates the significant and growing role of AD technologies, and of the market for AD digestate, across the UK. Since 2010 this growth has been given further impetus through strong support from all UK governments, and from WRAP’s support for the sector which includes the £10 million AD Loan Fund.”



  • Sites: 48 (14 in 2009)
  • Input grossed): 1.125 million tonnes
  • Sources of waste inputs: 58% non-municipal, 42% municipal (44%, 56% in 2009)
  • Capacity (grossed): 1.716 million tonnes
  • Capacity utilisation: 67%
  • Digestate output (grossed): 1.009 million tonnes (161,007 in 2009)
  • Number of sites reporting a value for digestate other than zero: 1
  • Biogas output (grossed): 210 million m3
  • Biogas utilisation: 98% CHP, 2% heat only
  • Electricity (grossed): 110,355MWh
  • Heat (grossed): 330,872
  • Employees (grossed): 245 (48 in 2009)

Composting (permitted)

  • Sites: 308 (281 in 2009)
  • Inputs (grossed): 5.444 million tonnes (5.265 in 2009, +3.4%)
  • Input capacity (grossed): 7.014 million tonnes
  • Input sources: 88% municipal, 12% C&I
  • Capacity utilisation: 78%
  • Compost output (grossed): 2.817 million tonnes (2.756 in 2009, +1.9%)
  • Compost total market value: £9.2m
  • Employees (grossed): 1,255 (1,184 in 2009, +6%)


  • Sites: 23
  • Input capacity (grossed): 1.282 million tonnes
  • Input sources: 72% municipal mixed waste, 17% non-municipal source segregated waste
  • Organic fraction output (grossed): 273,400 tonnes
  • Outputs (surveyed sites): 48% refuse derived fuel, 33% compose like output, 1% recyclables, 9% moisture loss, 9% landfill
  • Employees (grossed): 685

The report was commissioned by WRAP, in partnership with the Association for Organics Recycling (AfOR), the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), the Environmental Services Association (ESA), and the Renewable Energy Association (REA).

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