Collect more food waste to produce fertiliser, Warrens Group urges

UK fertiliser prices are rising towards £1,000 (€1,180) per tonne, up from £650 (€770) last week, as a result of gas price increases.

The price increase is exacerbated by the fact Russia is the world’s biggest exporter of synthetic fertiliser, supplying more than a fifth of urea, a key fertiliser used in the UK.

According to food waste recycling firm, Warrens Group, reports suggest farmers are coping with this change by planning to use less fertiliser, which could impact the amount of produce they can produce in a market already suffering from price rises due to Covid-related supply chain issues and the invasion of Ukraine.

Warrens Group uses anaerobic digestion (AD) to create energy from food that would otherwise go to waste. This process also creates a biofertiliser as a by-product in the resultant digestate made up of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash, which is high in nutrients and readily absorbed by crops.

With the mandatory introduction of separate food waste collections imminent for the UK’s local authorities, Kevin Quigley, commercial director of Warrens Group, is urging local authorities and the agricultural industry to team up to alleviate some of the emerging pressures that surround demand for fertiliser.

“Businesses and households are both facing rising prices in many areas including both food and fuel,” he said. “The devastating war in Ukraine and the sanctions placed on Russia as a result of their invasion have caused gas prices to soar.

“Fertiliser, an essential part of the food production process, has been affected as a result. The increasing gas prices will, unfortunately, contribute to the cost-of-living crisis in a variety of areas.

“We are in an unpredictable situation at the moment, so it is hard to offer concrete advice on how to best tackle the cost of living crisis, but plans to minimise and reduce the effects will help.

“The mandatory separate collection of food waste was already on the cards for local government, as outlined in the UK Government’s Environment Act, and many are in the middle of making plans around how they roll this out. It’s worth highlighting that fertiliser is a product of the AD process that food waste goes through to create energy – if we’re collecting more food waste, we’ll produce more fertiliser and this could go some way to support the current supply and demand issue that farmers are facing.”

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