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Defra clarifies position on ‘Shred and Spread’

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has released new guidance to all local authorities which will impact on their reporting of green waste recycling.

As it stands some green waste is given minimal treatment prior to spreading on agricultural land under licence as a beneficial use of waste, a process known as ‘shred and spread’.

Defra has issued clarification on whether local authorities may claim green waste collected from households and sent for ‘shred and ‘spread’ against their National Indicator 192 target following a number of queries.

In its ‘Shred and Spread’ and National Indicator 192 Policy Statement Defra states that: “Green waste sent for ‘shred and spread’ use should not be classed as recycling or composting for the purposes of reporting against NI192.”

Crucially, according to the guidance, ‘shred and spread’ does not meet with the NI192 indicator definition of composting meaning the material remains waste and it cannot therefore be said to have been recycled.

This clarification follows extensive campaigning from the Association for Organics Recycling (AfOR) which expressed concern over ‘shred and spread’ being used by farmers who would often undercut its members.

The Defra statement now means that if local authorities wish to make use of NI192 they now have to use a certified composting operator. AfOR is said to be “delighted” with this outcome.

The impact that this policy is likely to have on tonnages of green waste from local authorities being measured against NI192 is as yet unknown.

A spokesman from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) said: “At present there are no estimates for the volumes of material processed through the ‘shred and spread’ route, but since local authorities are already collecting this material for processing, it is difficult to foresee any impact on their recycling figures if the guidance is followed and the waste is treated at a recycling facility.”

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