New voluntary standard for fertilisers negates waste management controls

A quality assurance measure has been introduced for nutrient-rich fertiliser and soil conditioner produced when bio-degradable wastes are treated by anaerobic digestion.

Named BSI PAS 110, the new standard is a voluntary, national specification that will allow producers of the digestate to verify that their product is of consistent quality and fit for purpose.

It will also enable them to market the product as "bio-fertiliser" - making anaerobic digestion operators exempt from waste-management controls.

Nina Sweet, organics technical specialist at the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), said: "The introduction of BSI PAS 110 is a fundamental step in helping to develop sustainable markets for bio-fertilisers.

"Making it easier for farmers to use bio-fertiliser will increase demand within agriculture for fertilising and soil conditioning products derived from waste material. This will reduce reliance on chemical fertilisers, which has obvious environmental and economic benefits for the agricultural industry."

Anaerobic digestion operators in England and Wales who wish to use their digestate as a product rather than a waste must also meet the requirements of the anaerobic digestion quality protocol (ADQP).

Launched last September, the ADQP was developed by the Waste Protocols Project - a joint WRAP and Environment Agency initiative. Those who choose not to comply with the quality protocol are still subject to this regulation.

David Collins from the Renewable Energy Association said: "BSI PAS 110 and the ADQP are key developments within the industry. They provide assurance to consumers, farmers, food producers and retailers alike that bio-fertiliser is a safe and good-quality product."

Jake Prior, operations director for Andigestion, which runs an anaerobic digestion plant in West Devon supplying about 40 local farmers, said: "Being compliant with BSI PAS 110 and the ADQP will save tens of thousands of pounds in exemption licences and also provides important validation for farmers that bio-fertiliser is a safe and effective product."

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