A joint survey matching organic waste producers to their nearest anaerobic digestion (AD) operators has been launched in the UK.
The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) and the Renewable Energy Association (REA) created the survey in response to the increase in organic waste surpluses, caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to the organisations, one of the main consequences of the lockdown has been a 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 the issue, regulators in England, Scotland and Wales have contacted ADBA and the REA to assess the AD industry's capacity to take on this surplus waste to create green energy and biofertilisers.
The UK-wide survey, which is now live, will help to identify suitable AD plants for the various feedstock types. The organisations hope the survey will assist the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as well as the regulators and industries that generate biodegradable waste in identifying the overall capacity available to treat feedstock and prioritise recycling through AD, rather than energy recovery, incineration or landfill.
"It is our role as associations to ensure that our members and the wider industry can operate as normally as possible through these unprecedented times," said Dr Nina Skorupska CBE FEI, chief executive of the REA. "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.
ADBA's chief executive Charlotte Morton added that everyone must "pull together" to address the challenges caused by the pandemic. She said: "The 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.
"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.
"We are proud to deliver such a valuable service to society and urge all AD operators to complete the survey so that our industry's potential is fully assessed and realised, now and in the future."