Technology in action | CIWM President visits “innovative” Advetec site


Following her inauguration in June, CIWM president Anna Willetts visited an Advetec site alongside Dr Stephen Wise, Chief of Strategic Development for Advetec.

Advetec is an environmental biotechnology company which specialises in the reduction of contaminated waste streams. Circular Online caught up with both Anna and Stephen to learn about the visit and how it relates to Anna’s presidential report on End of Waste (EoW).

1 – What is the site and what do you do there?


The site visit was at Advetec’s engineering facility at Dunkirk Business Park in Frome as part of the biotechnology company’s first ever open week.

As part of the visit, we wanted to showcase Advetec’s technology to demonstrate how, with the use of an in-vessel rapid aerobic digestion process, it halves the mass of non-recyclable waste turning it into (Solid Recovered Fuel) SRF. Processing Mixed Residual Waste this way significantly reduces carbon emissions and benefits the circular economy.

The XO22, XO6 and XO3 digesters were all on display and Richard Goff provided technology tours for customers, prospects and other waste stakeholders. The machines were at different stages of completion and it was very interesting to see the robust and clever engineering that goes into building them.

2 – Why was this site of interest to both you and Dr Stephen Wise?


I was invited to see the technology in action and to meet the Advetec team. As the technology is innovative, gaining traction within the waste industry and providing enticing benefits, I think it is important for CIWM to show support, learn more and understand the technology better so I was very pleased to be invited to visit!

Dr Stephen Wise is a Chief of Strategic Development for Advetec and has a long track record of working within the waste industry, providing guidance and implementing innovation. Stephen and I have worked together for many years as Trustees on the Board of CIWM and in our day jobs as consultant and lawyer respectively.

It was also an opportunity to meet Scott Hawthorne, MD of Max Recycle (see below).

3 – What did you take away from the visit?


That biotechnology is a cost-effective, proven, reliable and innovative alternative to landfill and EfW. We also took away that mixed residual waste can deliver real value to the circular economy when it’s processed in this way.

Advetec is keenly committed to R&D and has several trials underway to look at beyond SRF, including the composition and subsequent uses of the floc.

The company has been active for many years delivering solutions to companies overseas. This year, they have been winning contracts with waste handlers in the UK and Ireland to ensure this tried technology can help the businesses and communities here.

4 – Can Advetec give us some detail on its digester technology and what makes this unique?


The event helped to launch Advetec’s first contract with a waste handler – Max Recycle – which makes them the first waste handler in the UK to create SRF on-site with biotechnology.

The Advetec XO system combines robust, clever engineering with bio-stimulants to turn contaminated Mixed Residual Waste into SRF.

Inside the controlled environment of the XO machine, a unique blend of bacteria is used to catalyse the aerobic reaction. Through this clever application of biotechnology, 50% reduction of waste mass and 70% of waste volume is achieved within 48-72 hrs from loading. (The step-by-step explanation of the process can be found here).

As the organic fraction is removed by the bacteria, the waste gains value and sits higher on the thermal hierarchy. The output is a high-quality SRF material.

Advetec designs its XO systems to address specific customers’ needs.

Advetec designs its XO systems to address specific customers’ needs, starting with independent waste characterisation to maximise the waste reduction on the particular waste stream.

The systems are modular which allows for variation in the future waste tonnage processing requirements and tailors the set-up to fit within the existing operational infrastructure.

Advetec dovetails their technology into their customers’ operations which ensures there are little to no changes to site operators’ activities, with clearly visible signals and easy instructions. This helps ensure rapid adoption by the team using XO machines.

The XO technology has been engineered and manufactured to cope with the rigorous environment that it’s exposed to in the waste industry. The machine has been designed with minimal customer disruption at the heart of what it does, and the maintenance has been simplified through robust design and feedback from installations across the world.

Advetec’s R&D programme is data-driven and customer-focused. To date, they have successfully completed trials on a number of different waste streams demonstrating the effectiveness to customers and regulators.

Advetec’s R&D programme is data-driven and customer-focused.

As the legislation changes in Scotland in 2025 to include AT4 testing of waste going to landfill, similar to the Republic of Ireland, the company has undergone extensive independent testing of the floc to measure the stability of the material. It has been proven that the floc achieves the required AT4 threshold for stability for both Scotland and Ireland.

However, the company is dedicated to extracting further value from the floc and helping deliver increased recycling rates. It recognises that the current infrastructure is under strain and in need of a cost-effective way to dispose of waste. By significantly reducing and stabilising the waste, we can prevent it from breaking down and emitting carbon and methane.

Advetec’s mission is to provide an alternative for waste going to incineration, reducing waste and its carbon footprint, and benefitting the circular economy.

5 – Anna, does Advetec’s technology relate to your CIWM report on end-of-wastes? If so, how?


With respect to the CIWM report on EoW, at this stage, the Advetec process converts the residual waste into SRF. Whilst it has transformed the waste into a useful commodity, SRF is still treated as a waste and not a product.

However, Advetec are developing off takes that move the floc up the thermal hierarchy and away from thermal treatment in conjunction with looking at different waste streams that can also be successfully processed through the technology.

Therefore, going forward the EoW challenges will be very relevant to Advetec as we further develop the potential to add value to our floc and under some situations change this from a waste into a product. EoW is important to the continued development of off takes for Advetec as we progress.


In terms of EoW, we are not expecting the Advetec process to transform waste materials out of the waste framework Directive unless under certain circumstances.

For example, if we process food waste or garden waste, as we have undertaken in the Republic of Ireland, then we would expect the output in this case compost to be able to meet EoW criteria, such as PAS100, with the additional processing – for example, plastics removal, which would be the same for any compost production.

However, where we’re anticipating a change is in treating certain wastes, leading to a change in the EWC code and making it beneficial for further onward treatment. For example, the treatment of Offensive Waste from health care facilities is a significant challenge and costly too.

If through treatment via the Advetec process, however, this creates a waste, that whilst still remaining a waste under legislation, will be perhaps eligible for onward disposal via a less costly method. This is one example, and we are evaluating a number of potential waste streams.

6 – Anna, how are you finding your presidential year so far?


I am really enjoying my Presidential year so far, thank you! It has been good to get out and see some of the businesses who are facing the challenges outlined in my report, and also to see some of the interesting technologies businesses are developing to turn wastes into non-wastes; it’s fascinating.

As you may have seen I have been taking the substitute chains out and about to illustrate some of these, as well as seminars where I have been invited to present the report, and a few holiday snaps thrown in for light relief…. Which do also include photos of bins, of course. Ever the waste manager.

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