Agency reviews biowaste sector for air quality improvements

The Environment Agency has launched a review into the way that permits for organic waste treatment facilities are issued, with a view to minimising the impact of these facilities on air pollution.

As part of the consultation, the Agency is seeking views from operators of organic waste treatment plants, such as anaerobic digestion facilities, waste collection companies and local authorities on how they can ‘reduce greenhouse gas emissions’ and reduce air pollution from the sector.

Evidence will look at how to: “Minimise the impacts of anaerobic digestion in relation to air quality with improved ammonia and phosphate extraction reducing methane emissions,” the Agency says.

This includes looking at the storage of digestate to minimise ammonia loss, as well other techniques to prevent emissions.

Launched in the last week, the consultation is looking at ways of improving environmental outcomes in the biowaste sector, which will align with the government’s 25-year environment and clean air strategies.

Other issues addressed in the call for evidence include enabling the reduction of waste, maximising the value of food waste and improving energy recovery.


Consultation documents, hosted on the Environment Agency’s website, state: “We believe that the biowaste treatment sector plays an important role in achieving these aims [within the government’s 25-Year Plan]. It supports the health of the UK’s soils by converting a wide range of organic wastes into valuable biofertilisers, soil conditioners and horticultural growing media.

“It enables biodegradable wastes to be diverted from landfills, preventing or reducing as far as possible the negative effects of landfilling waste. Biogas from the anaerobic digestion process is injected into the gas supply network or used to generate electricity and contributes to the UK’s diverse mix of renewable energy sources.

“However, it is widely recognised that the environmental performance of the biowaste treatment sector needs to improve. Despite some excellent examples of good practice the sector has a long history of pollution events and amenity problems. Although there has been some improvement in the performance of the sector in recent years, it lags behind that of the wider waste industry.”

According to the Agency, the consultation is the first part of its statutory review of environmental permits to ensure that they remain fit for purpose.

The consultation closes on 20 September.

Related Links
AD Call for Evidence


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