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Yorkshire and Humber has 900,000ha of composting potential

New research in Yorkshire and Humber shows that the area has the potential of using more than 900,000 hectares (ha) of land for green waste.

The findings from Recycling Action Yorkshire (RAY) suggest that while the region currently requires 281,000ha for spreading organic waste, there is enough agricultural land or ‘landbank’ to accept far greater amounts.

There is also forestry and brownfield land in the area in need of restoration that has the potential to take further amounts, meaning the 40% of compost already spread on farmland could be set to greatly increase.

RAY programme director Andrew Hartley said: “This is an opportunity for sustainable economic growth in the region. Spreading compost on land in the region creates investment in the rural economy, more jobs in the composting industry and helps farmers to manage and improve their soil. Every tonne of green waste diverted from landfill into composting also reduces CO2 emissions by 0.7 tonnes.”

While not all land will be suitable, areas involved will use compost to replace chemical fertilisers, increasing the soils organic content, which in turn improves structure, reduces erosion and the run off of fertilisers into streams and rivers.

Hartley added: “Yorkshire and Humber landfills the vast majority of its waste. This rots in landfill sites and creates methane, a gas which has 21 times more effect on climate change than carbon dioxide.”

With a high proportion of areas designated as Nitrogen Vulnerable Zones, composting is particularly important in the region.

Under the EU’s Landfill Directive, local authorities in Yorkshire and Humber are required to divert around 640,000 tonnes of organic material away from landfill by 2010. Businesses are also under increasing pressure to reduce their waste.

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