Food waste meetings: regulation and environmental performance updates

Food waste policy and regulation was in focus this week. ADBA’s Food Waste Operators met in Birmingham on Wednesday, while Jess and I also represented members at DECC’s Biowaste Regulatory Forum (BRF).

The BRF is a regular meeting between DECC, the EA and the waste trade associations. The Environment Agency used this meeting to give more detail on their performance figures for the sector in 2014, high level conclusions for which were published this week and are available here:

As those documents show, biowaste treatment technologies in general continue to provide a high proportion of permit breaches, which means the sector is high on the Agency’s agenda to encourage improvement. That said, the sector as a whole is improving, as the documents above show.

For AD in particular, the EA were able to provide more detail. For permitted on farm plants, 8% were rated as D-F (the bottom of the EA’s scale) for permit compliance in 2014. On other AD sites, 6% were in the same category. Reporting problems were a key reason for breaches – in other words, ensuring high quality record keeping could significantly reduce the EA’s attention on the sector. For merchant waste sites, a quarter of permit breaches resulted from odour issues, though these took place on just four of the 64 permitted sites.

Although the number of sites with problems significant enough to cause a permit breach is clearly low, the Agency emphasised that odour and biofilter performance are significant issues. They want to see the industry taking a proactive approach to ensuring high standards of operation, and we will reflect this in ADBA’s plans for industry-led best practice.

Waste operators will be aware that the Agency conducted a desk audit of permitted sites in January. They are now planning to conduct a full audit of the 50 sites which scored lowest in that exercise, along similar lines to their standard site audits. We would be interested to hear about any experience of this - please email Jess via

Operators at the meeting on Wednesday discussed the issues above, and heard updates on European End of Waste criteria and ADBA’s work on food waste collections. Full minutes will be issued to operators shortly, and we will also update members following next week’s meeting on WRAP’s new Food Waste Action Plan. 

Posted in: News for Members, Policy updates

Tags: food waste, biowaste, EA, permitting, best practice, Environment Agency, Defra, jess allan, Matt Hindle, food waste operators, environmental permitting, biogas, anaerobic digestion