12 Dec 2011 09:12:07
Pickles ruins Christmas for Osborne and Huhne
News that Eric Pickles' £250m fund for waste collection is to be restricted to councils that intend to retain or bring back weekly black bag collections has been greeted with dismay by senior figures in the organic waste recycling industry.
In evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, David Prout, the senior civil servant responsible for Localism, said that the fund "is about reinstating or retaining a weekly black bag collection". In the run up to Christmas and in the wake of disappointing Treasury figures on economic growth, this apparent ruling out of local authority schemes that propose a weekly separated food waste but fortnightly residual waste collections will come as further bad news for George Osborne and Chris Huhne.
DCLG's plans could severely hamper the ability of the Coalition Government to be the 'greenest government ever' while reducing the UK's budget deficit in the midst of a recession.
This preference for weekly residual waste collections has been maintained despite compelling evidence demonstrating that fortnightly residual waste collections not only boost recycling rates but are also cheaper and often preferred by residents. They also reduce the amount of food people throw away in the first place.
The anaerobic digestion sector – recognised by DEFRA this year as delivering the "greatest environmental benefit" of any option for food waste treatment – will meet to discuss these issues at the ADBA National Conference on 14 December, in a session entitled "Waste Collection, Gate Fees and the Impact of Eric Pickles."
Lord Redesdale, ADBA chairman and Liberal Democrat peer said: "Green infrastructure has huge potential to provide the growth the UK economy so desperately needs – if it is supported by government policy. Anaerobic digestion (AD) offers a vast range of benefits, treating our waste efficiently and preserving our valuable resources, whilst at the same time building growth in the UK economy, creating 35,000 new jobs, generating renewable energy capacity, and tackling climate change.
"The government risks throwing away those benefits and increasing council tax bills if they pursue weekly residual waste collections at the expense of separate food waste collections. The value of our recycled waste is much higher when source-segregated as the quality of each part is higher – especially when not contaminated with food waste.
"Source segregated local authority waste food treated with AD could deliver over 20TWhs of energy each year. Now is the time that departments like CLG should be looking to support the renewables sector. The coalition can still be the greenest government ever; it does not have to be a compromise. With government support and access to feedstocks AD can deliver the Christmas good news that Osborne and Huhne have been waiting for."
The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) is holding its third annual conference, the ADBA National Conference 2011, at One Great George Street in Westminster on 14 December 2011. The AD industry's leading conference will bring together the industry's biggest decision makers from local and national government, the regulators, the AD, food, waste, water, farming, energy and transport industries, to debate whether the AD industry is finally gathering momentum. Featuring an expert line up of high profile speakers including Charles Hendry MP (Minister of State, DECC), Ian Nolan (BIS), Sainsbury's, Barclays Corporate, The John Lewis Partnership, LARAC, NFU, Sita UK, Northumbrian Water, Ofwat, Camden Council and BiogenGreenfinch, dedicated panel sessions and an audience from across all sectors of the AD industry, this event is the ideal opportunity to not only find out the latest progress, issues and opportunities affecting the growth of the AD market but to directly question the people instrumental to its development.
• Is the AD momentum building?
• Waste collection, gate fees and the impact of Eric Pickles
• Ofwat OFT market study and impact on water and AD industries
• The role of standards in the development of the AD industry
• Delivering a strategy for biomethane as a transport fuel
Confirmed speakers include:
• Charles Hendry, Minister of State, DECC
• Ian Nolan, development director of UK green investments, BIS
• Ashish Anand, director – infrastructure and structured project finance specialist debt finance, Barclays Corporate
• David Smith, chief executive, ENA
• Dr Maxine Mayhew, group commercial director, Northumbrian Water Group
• Gulzar Gill, policy adviser, Department for Transport
• Dave Timson, head of waste, Sainsbury's
• Justin Laney, general manager – central transport, John Lewis Partnership
• John Taylor, engineering director, Stagecoach East Midlands
• Callum Johnson, transport manager, Camden Council
• Gwyn Jones, vice president, NFU
This conference has demonstrated strong interest from a number of related sectors:
Food waste sector
Producers of organic waste are increasingly looking for innovative, environmentally friendly and cost effective methods of treatment. AD is increasingly the treatment of choice. Not only does it treat waste safely and efficiently, it also produces a renewable gas and biofertiliser. It can, therefore, offer additional revenue streams to those who currently see this waste stream as a cost.
The plenary panel session – "Is the AD momentum building?" – will see Dave Timson, head of waste at Sainsbury's, Lee Marshall, executive member, LARAC and Richard Barker, chief executive, BiogenGreenfinch, discuss where they think this industry is going and how they think this industry's growth will benefit the food waste sector.
While AD is clearly an excellent treatment technology, getting hold of segregated organic waste to process remains a challenge for many operators. In our dedicated waste collection session chaired by Stephen Wise, technical director, Shanks, and chair of ADBA's feedstock working group, the session will draw out the key issues regarding waste collection and gate fees, and how they interact with the AD industry. Joined by Julia Barrett past chairman of ADEPT's waste panel, and Andy Olie, business development director, May Gurney, the panel will focus on how policy, price, availability and competition impact on the availability of waste feedstock and how they are likely to change going forward.
The benefits of AD in helping supporting climate smart farming are abundant. The technology is already well known as a slurry treatment option, to minimise emissions and create a better quality product to fertilise farm land. We are also increasingly seeing farmers interested in innovative uses for AD, for example to realise value from break and cover crops by using them to generate biogas, or taking in waste from other sources to increase gas yield. Other farmers have commissioned AD plants specifically to get the superior benefits from the biofertilisers which are produced.
The plenary panel discussion "Is the AD momentum building?" will consider the progress the UK is making on the government's promise to oversee the huge increase, Will Kirkman, director, Burdens Energy is joining the panel to represent the views of those in the small scale on farm AD sector.
Gwyn Jones, president, NFU, Howard Leberman, EA, and Nina Sweet, WRAP, will discuss the role of standards in the growth of the AD sector, how the differences between UK and Europe can be understood and managed, and the wider issue of how to develop standards in the UK which will support plant development and enable farmers to secure the finance required to realise their AD projects.
Access to finance is a key requirement for this industry's growth. Too often perceived as a new technology with high risks, AD projects to date have found it difficult to secure project finance. In the opening session, Ian Nolan development director of UK green investments, BIS, will talk to the AD industry for the first time about how the planned Green Investment Bank will be developed and discuss its potential to support AD projects. In our panel discussion, "Is the AD momentum building?", Ashish Anand, director, infrastructure and structured project finance specialist debt finance, Barclays Corporate, will put forward the financier's point of view, the current issues when considering these projects for finance and what he thinks industry and government needs to do to convince them that AD is a profitable option.
The OFT market study and the implications of Ofwat's policy decisions on competition for sewage sludge treatment and co-digestion are key considerations for those already involved or thinking of entering the AD market place. In our session on "the OFT market study impact on water and AD industries", our panellists, including Mark Worsfold, Ofwat, Maxine Mayhew, Northumbrian Water, Bill Elliot, Adgen and Ken Shapland, former president of CIWEM, will consider these implications and discuss the possibility of deregulation of the water industry and the possible timeline for this.
According to the Carbon Trust, biomethane as a transport fuel will achieve the greatest greenhouse gas emission savings of any use for biogas. The Department for Transport announced a targeted £1.5m fund for gas refuelling hubs in the Autumn Statement. However, biogas producers are currently not incentivised to follow this path and supply biomethane to the transport sector. Chaired by Catherine Crouch, Tenens Environmental, this panel will talk about the role biomethane could play as a transport fuel. Gulzar Gill, Department for Transport, John Taylor, Stagecoach, Douglas Robinson, Lincolnshire County Council, Justin Laney, John Lewis, and Callum Johnson, Camden Council will consider what strategy is needed to advance this sector, the economic considerations and how the area is likely to develop.
Key facts you need to know about anaerobic digestion and biogas
• Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a natural process which converts organic matter such as household food and garden waste, farm slurry, waste from food processing plants and supermarkets, and sewage sludge, into biogas.
• Biogas (which is approximately 60% biomethane, 40% CO2) can be utilised to generate electricity and heat, or, upgraded to biomethane, either used as a transport fuel or fed directly into the UK's gas grids.
• According to the Carbon Trust the generation of biomethane would save twice as much carbon dioxide as producing electricity by 2020.
• AD is the only renewable that can be scaled up fast enough to enable the UK to reach its 2020 renewable energy target.
• The AD industry has the potential to be worth £2-3bn in the UK alone and employ 35,000 people.
• Overseas potential is significant and the UK could be a world leader with the right support now.
• AD reduces greenhouse gas emissions by treating organic wastes which would otherwise emit methane (landfill, slurries) and reducing our use of energy intensive commercial fertilisers and fossil fuels.
• AD preserves critical natural resources such as nitrates and phosphorus. Phosphorous is a finite resource for which there is no known alternative. It is critical for plant growth and world resources are already running out. Nitrates are one of the key components of fertilisers.
• AD significantly improves Britain's energy security: we will soon be importing over 70% of our gas.
• Unlike other renewables, biomethane is generated constantly and can be stored in the gas grid.
• Biomethane is one of the few renewable fuels for heavy goods vehicles which cannot run on electricity.
The AD industry has the potential to generate around 40TWh of energy, equivalent to over 10% of the UK's domestic gas demand.
Five facts you need to know about ADBA
• ADBA stands for The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association.
• The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association was founded in September 2009.
• Since its launch ADBA has acquired over 260 members, including AD plant operators, suppliers, local authorities, farmers including the NFU, utility and energy companies such as E.ON and United Utilities, food producers such as Waitrose and Branston, fleet operators such as Coca Cola and Howard Tenens.
• ADBA's chairman is Lord Redesdale, former Liberal Democrat energy spokesman.
• ADBA's aim is to help enable or facilitate the development of a mature AD industry in the UK and to represent all businesses involved in the anaerobic digestion and biogas industries, to remove the barriers they face and to support its members to grow their businesses and the industry to help UK plc meet its renewable energy, climate change and landfill targets, as well as the preservation of critical natural resources.
Other interesting facts about digestate (a valuable biofertiliser) – and why source-segregation is important
• 1.1% of the UK's total GHG emissions come from the production of commercial fertilisers. Scotland estimates that it can replace as much as 25% of these from biofertilisers made from digestate.
• To produce quality biofertilisers from digestate, it is important to source segregate food waste – source segregating waste streams at the kerbside results in quality, recycled products which have the greatest value.
• The cost of commercial fertilizers is linked to the price of oil. Using biofertilisers made from quality (source-segregated) inputs will help keep food prices down.
Costs and benefits of source-segregated waste collections
• Excellent work has been done demonstrating that source-segregating kerbside collections not only results in better quality recycled products but also costs less to collect and treat and results in less waste overall as people are more aware of how much they are throwing away.
• Wasting food costs the average family with children £680 a year, or £50 a month, and has serious environmental implications too. If we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the CO2 impact would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.
• Example from Bexley Council: swapped from weekly refuse/fortnightly recycling in 2008 to weekly recycling (food and garden comingled and mixed recyclables). As a result,
o 5,000t more went to the organic collection (food/garden waste).
o 5,000t more went to mixed recyclables (plastics/metals/glass/paper/card etc).
o And there was 18,000 t less waste left in their residual collection than the previous year.
o Overall, there was 10,000 t less waste generated than in the previous year.
o In terms of costs, the costs of collection were neutral but they saved £820,000 on disposal in first year and over £1m in second year.
o There were just 20 complaints from 220,000 residents.
Benefits to corporate/supermarkets
• Packaged food can be processed more cheaply in AD than in landfill.