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Feature: Composting centre seeks excellence

Plans to turn a 17-hectare facility near Cambridge into the largest commercial composting facility in the UK are well underway with the launch of the National Centre of Excellence for Composting.

Led by research based consultancy ADAS, it is intended that the centre will be fully compliant with Animal By-Products Regulations and be a base for its composting research and development capability. The site is also designed to provide training to composters, regulators and Government agencies on the principles and practice of composting.

Patrick Pierrepont, ADAS’ head of waste management says: “ADAS will actively encourage the participation of Government departments and agencies, local authorities and the general public in making this the most important composting site in the UK providing the focus for all activity over the next decade.

"We have a very clear view of how we want to develop our involvement in composting. We plan to establish and develop a large, efficient composting facility using the best technology available, operating at the lowest unit cost of production possible, and with the minimum effect upon the local environment.”

The site currently has a waste management licence and planning permission to process more than 100,000 tonnes of organic waste a year, using the batch tunnel in-vessel system, and ADAS has already secured a £3.5million contract to use the batch tunnels.

The ADAS Composting Research Project is funded by landfill tax credits through Waste Recycling Environmental. This project will use batch tunnels to produce a range of composts from organics fines and will trial them for use in soil restoration, biofuel production and agriculture.

The centre received a further boost in September when ADAS was awarded preferred bidder status for a £2.4 million project funded through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ New Technologies Demonstration Programme.

This project will use state-of-the-art batch tunnels to optimise the composting process in terms of energy consumption, labour costs and processing time. The project will also identify, quantify and develop procedures to minimise emissions from the composting process such as bioaerosols, VOCs and odours.

In addition to the centre, ADAS has recently completed a project using composting as a method for the removal of contamination from road sweepings, which the company says could result in major savings in landfill void space. This project could potentially result in the beneficial use of the material rather than simply landfilling.

ADAS has also completed a project to develop methods of composting waste paper packaging.

The project takes waste paper that cannot be conventionally recycled to make a product that can be used as a mulch or soil improver. The composted material is being used to establish areas of trees.

A project has just been completed to measure bioaerosol emissions from a variety of composting systems. ADAS also has teams measuring background levels of bioaerosols and emissions from commercial composting sites and completing risk assessments.

WRAP capital funding for composting

Up to 48,000 tonnes of garden waste per year will soon be processed into high quality composted material, following capital funding from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

White Moss Horticulture in Liverpool and EJ Godwin Ltd in Westhay, Somerset are set to receive £570,000 and £87,000

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