Compost-creating recycling system gets operating licence

A small-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) plant being trialled at a Devon-based nursery recently received a two-year licence to recycle kitchen waste.

Plant: recycles kitchen waste to make compost. Credit: Otter Rotters
Plant: recycles kitchen waste to make compost. Credit: Otter Rotters

For the past three years, Trimplants nursery in Combe Raleigh has been trialling a recycling system that converts organic matter under oxygen-free conditions into compost and biogas. The biogas generated is mainly a blend of methane and carbon dioxide, and is stored and used to fuel an electricity generator on the nursery site.

The system was recently accredited under Animal By-Products Regulations (ABPR), which cover all organic waste of actual or potential animal origin. The project organiser, local community enterprise Otter Rotters, said it is the first ABPR-compliant community-scale AD plant in the UK.

Open days will be held this year to give businesses and local organisations the opportunity to see the facility, known as the Alchemy Project.

The project was set up to demonstrate the viability of small-scale, local composting of domestic kitchen waste and ascertain whether the compost end-product could be used by a commercial nursery.

Otter Rotters managing director Phil Foggitt said: "We have built up enough stocks of high-grade compost, and growing trials will take place between March and September to see if planting in the growing medium will lead to successful growth. It could provide a good alternative to peat."

Otter Rotters was collecting kitchen waste to feed the processor from 600 local households between November 2006 and December 2007 but stopped last December because the organisation could no longer afford to do so. Attempts to persuade the local council to take on the project have not proved successful.

Alchemy Project site manager Terry Trim said: "This project won't end here - we will be promoting this technology to other sectors, and I am convinced that decentralised AD is the future."

For details, call 01404 549055 or email

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