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First guidance for organics in mixed waste to cut landfill and boost land restoration

The first standard measure for the quality of organic content in mixed wastes is intended to prevent unnecessary landfilling of the material.

Until now, there has been a lack of clarity over the required quality of separated organic materials (SOMs), also known as compost like outputs (CLOs), according to trade association Organics Recycling Group (ORG).

ORG said land restoration projects using SOMs had had difficulty moving forward because waste classified as ‘mixed’ rather than ‘source separated’ has more restrictions. This has resulted in SOMs being sent to landfill when they could be recycled and used as a source of crop nutrients for land reclamation and restoration projects.

The SOMs Land Restoration End-use Standard, developed by the ORG and industry group BioCompost Alliance, sets a baseline standard for the first time.

The key elements of the guidance are:

  • Clarification that SOMs and CLOs are equivalent terms
  • Highlighting that all SOMs included in the End-Use standard need to be treated to Animal By-Products Regulation standards
  • Conditions that restored land using such products cannot be used thereafter for agricultural production

All of the members of the BioCompost Alliance, an industry group formed by agricultural and environmental consultancy ADAS to support research and best practice in SOM use, have signed up to the new standard.

Renewable Energy Association technical director Jeremy Jacobs said: “Instead of having to pay to dispose of it, project developers can now put this compost like material to beneficial use. It won’t be taking up landfill space but substituting for more expensive land reclamation materials.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency welcomed the guidance and said: “Whilst it does not guarantee that a SOM will be suitable for the proposed use, it should help reduce occasions when proposed land treatment activities are not supported by us.”

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