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Biowaste Feedstock Availability Set to Rise – EU Parliament Report

There is nothing like an EU target imposed in all member states to produce additional biowaste feedstock supplies, which are the life-blood for anaerobic digestion plant operations. Like it or lump it, and as we know, the UK doesn't like it and will presumably be out before this comes into force.

However, there are new, higher, biowaste recycling targets now moving forward through the EU Parliament. Where these targets are enforced, they will raise the tonnages of biowaste feedstock, most of which will be assumed to go to anaerobic digestion.

As usual in the measures put forward by the EU Parliament, money will be no object, so this news is wonderful for food waste, and similar waste treatment biogas plant owners, who will be asked to accept additional food waste, and a lot of it too!

That will be very good for existing food waste, AD Plant owners, because gate fees should remain firm for some years as the available capacity of AD Plants comes on-stream to meet the demand. Read the article below, and visit the original website for more details as required:

The European Parliament has published its Waste Draft Report

Following the publication of the European Commission’s proposal to revise the EU’s waste legislation, the European Parliament presents its draft report. Ms Bonafe, the MEP responsible for the waste revision, presented her draft report to the Environment Committee of the European parliament on the 24th of May. The draft report consists of amendments to the Commission’s legislative proposal of last December to revise the Waste Framework Directive, which is the centrepiece of the EU’s waste legislation. Building on the Commission’s version, Bonafe’s Report includes several important points for the anaerobic digestion sector and the recycling of waste in general. It strengthens the Directive’s definitions under article three, adding new terms for “organic recycling” and “commercial and industrial waste”. By-products are given a more prominent role, calling for quicker “industrial symbiosis” such as in the agro-industry.

Related to this, the Bonafe Report requests the Commission to propose targets for commercial & industrial waste, as well as to give guidance on collection and treatment of biowaste, both by 2019. More importantly, it sets an unambiguous obligation to source separate biowaste, along with a specific EU wide recycling target of 65% for biowaste. This draft report will be used as the basis for discussion in the European Parliament, where following the opportunity for MEPs to amend it, political groups will reach a compromise text that will then be voted by the assembly. In parallel, the Council of the EU representing all 28 states will draft its own common position. Following this, both Parliament and Council will start negotiations (most likely in early 2017), with the aim to reach an agreement on the revision of the Waste Framework Directive in the course of the year.

via The European Parliament published its waste draft report

Biowaste Feedstock/ Biowaste Collection

However, the UK and specifically England, will be most likely, even after Brexit, to continue existing policy which already targets increased biowaste collection at source, and specifically household collection of food waste, as food/ kitchen waste source segregation has proved very popular in Wales and Scotland. English collection rates for biowaste feedstock lag a long way behind the rates being achieved in Wales and Scotland. In addition, there is an increasing awareness among local authority waste management professionals that the UK, and especially English local authorities, have a problem with the poor quality of recycled products.

PricePaid for Recyclates has been Going Down

The price being paid for recyclates has been going down for many years, but it is not just due to excess recyclates being available in many markets. It is also a quality problem. The degree of contamination of non-biowaste recycled materials output from UK MRFs and MBT plants is simply not good enough currently to support decent recyclate prices. Organic contamination and foreign materials in the UK's recycled materials are, in general, simply too high for efficient reprocessing, and well below continental EU standards. The following article explains more about this problem:

Farm worker feeding animals on anaerobic digestion UK farmIn the UK, since 2011, there have been two main policies, pushing forward anaerobic digestion UK implementation. These have been been to collect and digest food waste, and to raise renewable energy production, where necessary providing subsidies, as part of climate change reduction policy.

In detail these can be summarised, by reference to UK government web pages as follows:

Anaerobic Digestion UK – Policy for Renewable Energy Production

We support efficient energy recovery from residual waste, which can:

  • benefit the environment
  • reduce carbon emissions
  • provide economic opportunities

Efficient energy recovery means getting the most out of energy from waste, not putting the most waste into energy recovery. This might require a combination of energy from waste technologies. Incineration is one of these and others include pyrolysis, gasification and plasma arc. We’re committed to increasing the proportion of energy we obtain from renewable sources to at least 15% by 2020. Energy from waste can contribute to meeting those targets. Also via 2010 to 2015 UK Government Policy Statement

So, how well, in mid-2016, are these policies being followed?

  1. On Food Waste collection, and its sustainable digestion in anaerobic digestion plants, Wales and Scotland have done well, but the record in England where the influence of austerity policies is strongest, has been poor. As the population in England is far greater than Wales and Scotland the overall performance of this form of anaerobic digestion in the UK overall is lagging behind other comparable countries.

Biogas purification plantNot only that, drill down further into the issues and you will find that the Food Waste situation is one of low investment, and poor quality collected materials: The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is seeking responses to a consultation on guidance that sets out obligations along the chain of food waste management, with an aim of achieving a high quality recycling of food waste. And, raising anaerobic digestion UK financial values. The consultation will run until 29 June 2016 and asks how the food waste management chain how to maximise efficiency across composting and anaerobic digestion.   via SEPA Consults On Food Waste Recycling Quality Renewable Energy Association - Lake Ostrowo, Birds

And, yet! The respected REA (UK) has concluded that in the majority of situations, food waste collected separately can save them money: … the Renewable Energy Association (REA) has concluded that in the majority of situations, food waste collected separately can save money via Food Waste Collections “Cost Effective”, Report Finds 2.

While anaerobic digestion for renewable energy production is widely projected to meet the committed target by 2020, the industry will from now on be expected to do far more than previously to self fund future anaerobic digestion projects, as biogas production subsidies are being rapidly dismantled in the UK, as follows:

via Anaerobic Digestion UK Recent Developments It should be noted, that with the new target proposed at 65% in the recent EU Parliamnet report (see above), England in particular will need to up its game on biowaste collection.

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    • Rob Warner
    • February 16, 2018

    You said in this article when published 2 years ago, that gate fees should remain firm for some years as the available capacity of AD Plants comes on-stream to meet the demand. Won’t the opposite be true, because there are many more AD plants have been built – in a finite world?

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