Best Practice Scheme

What is the Best Practice Scheme?

The Best Practice Scheme is an industry-led initiative which aims to support the AD industry in the UK to improve operational, environmental and health & safety performance. ADBA is leading this project, working closely with industry stakeholders, including operators, developers, consultants, suppliers, insurers, regulators and other trade bodies related to the sector. The project is coordinated by ADBA’s Environment and Regulation Manager, Jess Allan.

We are supported by a Steering Group, made up of representatives from trade associations, professional bodies and the insurance sector, which has worked alongside the key regulators to help guide the scheme’s delivery. The Steering Group is chaired by Dr Amaya Arias-Garcia from Goals PME who brings a wealth of experience working in the AD sector.

Through discussions with the industry, it is clear that there is a large amount of existing regulation, guidance and standards that can help operators deliver a high-performing plant. Therefore the scheme will raise awareness of these tools and explain how they can help operators to achieve best practice.

Why are we doing this and how will it benefit the industry?

There are a number of drivers behind this project.

Firstly, the AD industry has been under scrutiny from the environmental regulators in recent years. This is due to their data indicating that the biowaste treatment sector, of which AD is a part, experiences a higher number of pollution incidents than other regulated sectors; click here to view recent EA reports. Further to this, there have been some high profile incidents, some involving serious plant failure and resulting pollution. This unfortunately damages the reputation of the entire industry, even though they are isolated and rare. Similarly, the insurance sector is keen to see improvements in both environmental and health & safety risk management at AD plants, and funders would like clear criteria through which they can assess projects. In order to avoid increasing scrutiny and rising insurance costs, the industry can make a positive demonstration of its commitment to achieving environmental protection and high standards of health and safety through the Best Practice Scheme.

Beyond this, the scheme will consider how to help the industry improve operational performance, in particular energy generated and digestate quality. Through our existing work with the industry, it is clear that operators, engineers, technology suppliers and developers are constantly seeking ways to optimise their performance. Through the scheme, we hope to reflect developments in the industry, provide information on how plants and suppliers can improve and help them overcome the key barriers to good performance.

What will we deliver?

In order to deliver our aims, we have proposed a two-step delivery plan, as detailed below.

Step 1: Develop Best Practice Checklists

The first step of the project is to develop a series of checklists, which will set out how to achieve best practice in key aspects of operating AD plants and highlight existing tools, guidance and legislation that can contribute to best practice. Initially, we will publish three checklists, covering risk management, procurement and operational performance. These topics were identified through our industry engagement. The three checklists were published in July 2016 - you can download them for free here.

Step 2: Launch a Best Practice Certification Scheme

The second step of the project is to develop a voluntary certification scheme, which defines best practice and enables AD plants to be recognised as meeting it. This will be a crucial stage of the project; a certification process is essential to ensuring that regulators, insurers and investors have confidence in the scheme, allowing the industry to realise the full range of potential financial and regulatory benefits of signing up.  We anticipate that the checklists delivered through Step 1 will provide us with a tried-and-tested structure but we will need to devise detailed assessment criteria that will allow third-party accreditation bodies to verify the achievement of best practice at AD plants. This will require extensive input from the industry to ensure that the criteria are suitable and an accurate reflection of current best practice.

We are currently working to develop the certification scheme and are pleased to hear from anyone who is working in the industry who would like to be involved - there will be plenty of opportunities to provide feedback, which will help us deliver the scheme.

Get in touch with Jess at for further information.