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Biowaste Treatment sector environmental performance update - 2013

Although the figures represented in this latest EA update on the  environmental performance of the biowaste sector are one year out of date, they are able to show the trend of performance looking in greater detail at composting, anaerobic digestion (AD) and the waste water treatment works (WWTW)

It should be noted that these figures relate to biowaste  treatment ONLY and do not include pollution incidents that may have occurred as a result of landspreading compost or digestate.

The report shows an increase in the number of reported pollution incidents between 2010-2013, HOWEVER it fails to recognise that there will undoubtedly have  been a growth in the number of sites permitted within this timeframe as many sites were changing from exemptions to permits at this time. (in other words rather than expressing this as a % , it is shown in the report as  direct numbers of incidents and takes no account for the additional sites permitted over this period, this is misleading!)

Headline metrics are:
There are 13 registered sites of high public interest  (SHPI) within the biowaste sector, this equates to 2% of permitted sites.
Odour was the primary concern at these sites and of the 13 sites 8 were rated D-F for compliance purposes
Number of SHPI sites has declined in this year although number of permits in the sector increased from 550-608
Pollution incidents are up year on year HOWEVER little detail is provided on the exact nature of these pollution incidents (for example are they related primarily to odour or containment etc)
In total there was 49 serious pollution incidents within this year. 28 were attributed to composting and 14 to AD with 10 incidents occurring on one site!
Serious Pollution incidents/100 permits shows
o Nine for compositing (was 6.3 in 2012)
o 21.9 for AD (was 58.3 in 2012)
As a sector, 8% of all issued permits fell within the D-F category up from 7% the previous year.
Main reason (28%) for site permit breaches was due to ‘General Management’ of the site and associated management systems. 14% were due to odour pollution.

In summary, biowaste continues to face significant challenges, HOWEVER it has been noted that there has been an improvement in 2014 and the EA hope to get more recent figures out to industry as soon as possible in order that they reflect more closely to the ‘now’ and current practices.

Any questions regarding this report should be addressed to jeremy@r-e-a.net

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