Best Practice Scheme update – pilot completed

We’re pleased to say that the pilot of the Best Practice Scheme has now been completed, which means that we are on track to open the scheme to applicants autumn/winter 2017.

In the next few months there are several opportunities to hear more about this in person and to take part in the conversations around it; there will be sessions on this at the following events:

This blog provides an update on key issues and areas for discussion going forward.


ADBA appointed Aardvark Certification Ltd (ACL), a specialist auditing and certification body with a great deal of technical expertise in AD, to undertake the pilot of the scheme, which essentially involved of a trial run of the process to understand whether it works in practice and to identify any areas for improvement prior to launch.

We were pleased to have a number of operators volunteering to take part, showing us that there is a good amount of interest in being involved. Sadly we only had the time and resources to work with three operators in the pilot, selected to give representative coverage of plants in terms of feedstock type, including on-farm, food waste and food manufacturing.

Each operator in the pilot went through the audit process as set out in the Scheme Rules, with the objective of assessing them against the Scheme Criteria. The operators were first asked for some information to be sent in advance of the site audit and this information was reviewed by the pilot team. After this, a site-based audit was undertaken by ACL to allow them to walk around the site with the operator, verify information provided and follow up with any questions or to see if gaps can be filled by information held on site.

The primary purpose of the pilot was to test the scheme itself, rather than the operators but there were some interesting observations. For two of the operators involved, there were some areas for improvement and some non-conformances with the scheme criteria and therefore recommendations were made which would be required to be addressed in order to achieve certification. One operator would have been judged as a pass, with only two very minor recommendations. As well as identifying aspects of site operations that could be improved, the process is designed to highlight good performance and any exemplary or exceptional things that operators are doing. Many positive things were observed on site and some of these weren’t captured in the sites’ documentation, so a key tip when applying to the scheme is to ensure that written management systems and procedures are an accurate reflection of what is actually done on site as this makes the audit process easier and also ensures positive things receive due recognition. Another tip is therefore to ensure that as much information is provided to the auditor in advance of the site visit and to check that everything is easily accessible on site.

Regarding the length of the site-based element of the audits, ACL were on site for between 2.5 and 4.5 hours – one operator was able to demonstrate that they had external certification for some aspects of the scheme criteria (e.g. ISO14001 for their Environmental Management System) and also had most of the information needed very readily available, which made the audit a much quicker process.

Overall, no major issues were experienced with the scheme criteria themselves, but some clarifications will be made and there may be some structural changes to the audit checklist to make the process as time-efficient as possible. We will post any updated documents on the ADBA website and welcome feedback.

So far, we have had some excellent feedback and we hope that once the scheme is up and running lots of operators will utilise it as a helpful tool to ensure their plants are managed as effectively as possible.

Steering Group meeting

To follow up on the completion of the pilot, we had a meeting of the scheme's Steering Group last week, which saw attendance by the EA, NRW, SEPA, APHA, HSE, CIWM, CLA, Jelf Insurance Brokers, Zero Waste Scotland, IChemE, Chubb and Allianz. The meeting was very constructive and allowed us to set out the next steps to launching the scheme, and discuss how we will monitor its effectiveness and encourage operators to participate. These points are summarised below.

Next steps

We intend to open the scheme to applicants before the ADBA National Conference on 8th December. To open the scheme, we need to finalise the two main scheme documents – the Scheme Rules and Scheme Criteria – and so this will be our immediate priority. There is also remaining work to do to secure stakeholder support and to ensure that benefits are delivered to scheme participants.

If you are an operator interested in signing up to the scheme, please let us know as we can ensure that you are notified directly as soon as the scheme opens. We can also ensure you have the latest scheme documents so that you can begin to prepare.

Monitoring scheme effectiveness

The scheme aims to improve the industry’s performance and it is important that its effectiveness in achieving this is monitored. Therefore from the day the scheme opens we will have a plan in place to gather evidence and assess the performance of certified plants in comparison to the industry average. We will then be able to share this information with stakeholders and make any necessary changes or improvements to the scheme.

Encouraging operators to take part

We discussed how operators can be encouraged to take part in the scheme and how they will benefit.

Some of the benefits for operators that we foresee are:

  • Demonstrate that risks are being managed appropriately through an independent audit process – get access to better deals on insurance premiums and better finance deals.
  • Get recommendations on how to improve site operations – use the scheme as a tool to get the best performance out of the plant and ensure site workers and the environment are protected.
  • Gain recognition for meeting high standards – use the scheme as evidence of good performance in bids, refinancing processes, marketing and so on.
  • Demonstrate to the regulators commitment to working to high standards – we are working towards securing reduced subsistence fees for certified operators from the Environment Agency and other environmental regulators.
  • Be part of an exciting industry initiative – the scheme will be an important initiative which aims to be of benefit to the whole industry and it will hopefully be an exciting project for operators to be part of.

We’ll be working hard to ensure we do everything we can to deliver as much benefit to participating operators as possible.

Get involved

We’re always keen to hear feedback or expressions of interest in being involved in the scheme. Feel free to email me at or attend one of the events listed at the top of this blog and we can discuss in person. 

Posted in: News for Members, Policy updates

Tags: anaerobic digestion, biogas, best practice scheme, crop operators, food waste operators, Environment Agency, regulation, environment, health and safety