June 2014

Eunomia Issues Anaerobic Digestion Report

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A new report published today by Eunomia Research & Consulting ahead of the annual Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas (ADBA) conference suggests that the Anaerobic Digestion market has reached a ‘tipping point’ beyond which there is not currently sufficient feedstock being collected (from the food processing/manufacturing, household and commercial sectors) to support operation of new AD facilities, designed to treat food waste, coming to market.

Some operators and developers are struggling to access sufficient feedstock at a level of gate fee which can support either new plant development or ongoing operation. Without any change in the market or regulatory environment to stimulate separate collection of household, and most importantly, commercial wastes the report suggests that there may be consolidation within the sector in the near future.

Adam Baddeley, the report’s lead author said:

“The report is underpinned by modelling which broadly quantifies the levels of source separated food waste, which is ‘actually available’ across key sectors which generate food wastes. AD capacity designed to treat food waste is developing at a faster pace than food waste feedstock is being ‘unlocked’ for separate collection. Market development and regulatory intervention is urgently needed to maintain growth in the sector and to ensure food waste is treated in line with the waste hierarchy.”

It is becoming increasingly important to consider methods by which food waste can be further unlocked from both the commercial and household sectors.

  • In this respect, in the immediate term, the Eunomia report suggests the following market-driven, commercial approaches to delivering greater capture rates:
    • A move towards weight-based pricing mechanisms, which can be an attractive proposition for contractors, which can offer both residual and food waste collections; and
    • Procurement of food (and other) waste collection services via collaborative methods, whereby businesses join together to reduce the costs of the service.
  • In the short to medium-term, we also propose the following regulatory measures, as a means to maintaining an upward trend in food waste captures to support growth in the AD sector:
    • Tighter adherence to, and enforcement of the waste hierarchy by the EA, as the authority tasked with ensuring compliance with related Guidance published by Defra;
    • The introduction of a requirement in England (and Wales) upon businesses to sort food waste at source, as has been introduced in Scotland; and
    • The introduction of a requirement for local authorities to provide separate food waste collections to households.

It also remains essential for local government, central Government and industry to focus on waste prevention efforts to achieve the most cost effective and environmentally beneficial outcomes in terms of food waste generation and management.