By Jez Abbott
Industry leaders have hailed a landmark code of practice for producers to transform compost from a waste material into a versatile product offering big cost reductions.
The quality-control protocol sets out ways of producing high-quality compost from green and food waste and fibre rejects from pulp and paper mills. It can therefore be classed in the same way as other products, like peat.
Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) director of organics Richard Swannell said: “It makes compost a more marketable product and allows users to spread it on land without having to register for waste exemption.”
Composting Association chief executive Dr Jane Gilbert said the protocol her group helped to draw up would add the equivalent of £1.22 per tonne of compost by reducing the cost of compliance with regulatory control.
“The industry produces around 1.5 million tonnes of compost a year and grew by almost a third last year,” she said. “By 2013 as much as 10 million tonnes could be used by horticulture, landscaping and agriculture.”
Environment Agency policy officer Dr Nina Sweet said producers had to meet three baseline rules to deliver the compost to the market, meet recognised standards and use the material without harming the environment.
In turn, producers had to keep detailed records of batch and consignment numbers to prove “traceability”. They had to test the compost independently to prove it was free from contamination from plastic bits and metallic residues.