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Organics recycling industry shows "significant" growth

The organics recycling industry showed “significant growth” in 2008/09 against the previous year both in terms of financial turnover and the amount of biodegradable waste treated, according to a survey of organics companies.

Carried out by MEL Research on behalf of the Association for Organics Recycling (AfOR) and the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the industry’s turnover increased by 36% in 2008/09 on the previous year, bringing its total revenue to £226m.

Data -  collated from the 194 sites which replied to the questionnaire -  illustrated 5.1 million tonnes of source segregated organic waste was collected for recycling, an increase of 14% against the previous year’s figure with composting being the principal treatment method. This figure amounts to a five-fold increase in the quantity of organics composted since 1998 which, according to AfOR, shows Government policy is helping to drive tonnages up. The amount of mixed organic waste collected for recycling at a mechanical biological treatment plant is estimated to be 629,000 tonnes – up from the 2007/08 figure of 584,000 tonnes.

AfOR managing director Jeremy Jacobs said: “This continued growth in the organics recycling sector, demonstrates that there is renewed confidence in the collection and treatment of this valuable resource. The landfill tax escalator will continue to promote further expansion and growth for the foreseeable future and this is further underpinned by recent advances in the provision of renewable energy incentives.”

Although simple windrow composting systems dominated the sector in 2008/09, results showed anaerobic digestion and in-vessel composting are adding “substantially” to the overall market. In fact, data showed that in 2007/08, 42% of firms described themselves as “specialist composters” but in 2008/09 this was split, so 5% were now AD/organics treatment companies.

Furthermore, the majority of the organics waste collected (85%) was made up of municipal waste, with 51% of this collected through the kerbside. In addition, quantities of food waste collected separately at the kerbside haven more than doubled to 36,000 tonnes in 2008/09 against the previous year.

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