Composting sees rapid growth

Professional composting is growing at a breakneck speed but, according to the sector's leading trade association, there is still potential for huge expansion.

This Wednesday, the Composting Association published its State of Composting and Biologicial Waste Treatment in the UK report, taking an in depth look at how the market has developed in recent years.

The document estimates that in the space of just one financial year running up to April 2005, composting increased from 1.97 million tonnes to 2.67 million tonnes, or a staggering 35% growth.

While many industries might be content to rest on their laurels after achieving such speedy expansion, Jane Gilbert, chief executive of the CA, said there was no time to sit back as changing waste management strategies meant that the UK’s supply of commercial composting sites would soon be outstripped by the demand for their services.

She also called on state aid to support the development of this treatment of what could potentially be a huge waste stream.

Composting is considered on a par with recycling in the widely-accepted waste hierarchy but receives a fraction of the backing.

“We are extremely pleased to see the positive progress the composting industry has made over the last few years,” she said.

“Our members work in a difficult environment but thanks to the findings of this survey we have a better understanding of where they stand at the moment.

“Composters will be able to use the results of this survey to demonstrate to both the Government and to the wider public that they make a positive contribution to both the economy and the environment.

“There is still, however, room for development. The survey shows that there is going to be a major capacity shortfall for composting in the UK, especially for the in-vessel plants needed to treat catering waste.

“Unless a number of new facilities are built soon, this country will not be able to meet the binding targets set for it by the EU Landfill Directive. We would call on the Government to take a good look at the work being done in this area, to support composters who want to build new sites and to help existing composters who want to expand their operations.”

Sam Bond

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