New guidance developed by the Organics Recycling Group (ORG) of the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and BioCompost Alliance sets a recognised baseline standard for the recycling of Separated Organic Material outputs (SOMs) from mixed resources.
The standard, developed in partnership with environmental scientists from ADAS and welcomed by the Environment Agency, will enable investors to progress long-stalled land restoration projects looking to make use of SOMs, also known as compost like outputs (CLOs). It is available for download on the ORG website.
Land restoration projects using SOMs have been unable to progress because once waste is classified as “mixed” rather than “source-separated”, its potential applications become much more limited. There had been no recognised standard – until now – by which to assess the quality of SOMs. This means that SOMs have tended to end up in landfill when they could in theory be recycled, for instance, in land restoration/reclamation projects.
The Environment Agency – “This industry led initiative will be helpful in driving up the quality of SOMs proposed for use in the treatment of land to help improve an existing soil or create a new soil profile”
REA technical director Jeremy Jacobs said: “Instead of having to pay to dispose of it, project developers can now put this compost like material to beneficial use. It won’t be taking up landfill space but substituting for more expensive land reclamation materials. It’s a win-win all round and we are delighted to have been part of its development.”
The key elements of the new industry-led guidance are:
- Clarification that SOMs and CLOs are equivalent terms
- Highlighting that all SOMs included in the End-Use standard need to be treated to Animal By-Products Regulation (ABPR) standards
- Stipulation that restored land cannot be used thereafter for agricultural production.
The Environment Agency has welcomed the new guidance. A spokesperson said: “This industry led initiative will be helpful in driving up the quality of SOMs proposed for use in the treatment of land to help improve an existing soil or create a new soil profile. Whilst it does not guarantee that a SOM will be suitable for the proposed use, it should help reduce occasions when proposed land treatment activities are not supported by us.”
All the members of the BioCompost Alliance, an industry group formed by ADAS in 2007 to support research and best practice in SOM use, have signed up to the new standard.
ADAS Head of Soils & Nutrients, Professor Brian Chambers said: “I am delighted to see the Environment Agency supporting this industry initiative which will help provide a higher level of confidence to operators and regulators alike. The guidance provides a baseline standard, which will ensure greater transparency and confidence for industry in recovering the maximum value of SOMs when used in land restoration projects. This is an excellent outcome after several months of hard work by ourselves, the ORG and our partners across the industry.”