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Anaerobic digestion under threat from European Directive

The UK anaerobic digestion (AD) industry is under threat from proposed changes to the European Union (EU) Waste Framework Directive, claims the government and industry this week.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are opposed to changes being planned - called “end of waste” - to alter what is currently classified as recycled product to waste in the AD process.

In the UK, AD uses mostly food waste to produce energy in the form of biogas and a by-product which can be used as an organic fertilizer. The new EU Directive - based on German AD practice which uses mostly energy crops as input - would re-classify the bi-product as waste, not recycled product. This would greatly impact on the commercial viability of an AD scheme and its contribution towards local authority recycling targets, claims REA and Defra.

REA says that contrary to recent reports, the proposed “end of waste” criteria is not a more stringent set of regulations, but are simply “wholly inappropriate” for the UK. Defra and REA are negotiating with European officials to make try and make the appropriate changes to the Directive.

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