An industry survey has been launched to treat surplus organic waste generated by the COVID-19 lockdown.
A consequence of the lockdown has been the large amount of additional organic wastes generated by the closure of markets for food and drink producers such as farms, fisheries and breweries.
To address this situation, regulators in England, Scotland and Wales contacted the the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) and the Renewable Energy Association (RNA) to assess the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry’s capacity to take on this surplus waste for recycling into energy and biofertilisers.
This joint survey, which will match organic waste producers to their nearest AD operator, will help identify suitable AD plants for the various feedstock types.
It also aims to assist Defra, the regulators and industries that generate biodegradable waste in identifying the overall spare capacity available to treat feedstock and prioritise recycling through AD; favouring it over other types of disposal lower down the waste hierarchy, such as energy recovery, incineration and the most environmentally harmful option, landfill.
ADBA and the REA will use the information from the survey to match suitable AD operators with the farmers and other food/drinks supply chain organisations that have surplus that needs to be recycled.
This aims to ensure that organic waste is correctly treated and that AD operators have more opportunities to source feedstock throughout lockdown measures.
“This survey of AD’s spare capacity to treat various types of organic wastes shows how our industry can proactively play its part in supporting farmers and food and drinks producers with their surplus feedstock,” said Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of ADBA.
“Most importantly, it delivers a solution that not only tackles the current waste surplus crisis, but also, by recycling organic wastes into biogas for power, heat and transport as well as biofertilisers for agriculture, sustains the economy and establishes a building block towards a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the REA, added: “With lockdown measures resulting in a drop in feedstock supplies in AD plants, this survey is a valuable tool that will not only aid the AD operators business continuity but prevent surplus waste from being disposed of in an inefficient and environmentally unfriendly manner.”