A report from consultancy Eunomia claims that the anaerobic digestion (AD) sector has reached a “tipping point” because there is insufficient feedstock coming to the market to support the operation of new AD facilities.
Eunomia warns that competition for feedstock might become “relatively fierce” and some consolidation may occur in the medium term unless there are changes in the market or regulations to stimulate separate food waste collections.
Adam Baddeley, the report’s lead author, said: “AD capacity designed to treat food waste is developing at a faster pace than food waste feedstock is being ‘unlocked’ for separate collection. Market development and regulatory intervention is urgently needed to maintain growth in the sector and to ensure food waste is treated in line with the waste hierarchy.”
He said that the report was “underpinned by modelling which broadly quantifies the levels of source separated food waste, which is ‘actually available’ across key sectors which generate food wastes”.
Eunomia said is becoming increasingly important to consider how food waste can be unlocked from the commercial and household sectors and has suggested several measures that could help increase the amount of feedstock sent to AD.
In the immediate term, it suggests food businesses could enter in joint collection agreements to reduce the costs of food waste collection.
Then, in the short-to-medium term, Eunomia proposes:
- Tighter adherence to, and enforcement of the waste hierarchy by the EA;
- The introduction of a requirement in England (and Wales) upon businesses to sort food waste at source, as it has been introduced in Scotland; and
- The introduction of a requirement for local authorities to provide separate food waste collections to households.
Matthew Hindle, policy manager at the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) welcomed the report and told MRW: “It is clear that competition for food waste is increasing as new facilities continue to open, though it is important to remember that these markets vary across the country.
“Eunomia have rightly identified that regulatory change is needed to support the use of anaerobic digestion to make more from organic resources, for example by requiring businesses and local authorities to separate food waste at source.
“The increasing number of AD plants shows that the industry can deliver. It is time for waste policy to catch up.”