The Composting Association and the waste resources action programme (WRAP) have been instrumental in developing markets for compost produced from green waste. These include trials to test compost’s practicability for use by groundsmen on turf, for landscaping professionals, for agricultural use, and for use in the development of brownfield sites.

All of these markets are dependent on reliable bulk supply from the UK composting industry. The national increase in centralised compost production sites provides assurance that there will be enough compost to meet bulk demand for key end users.

For these sites to produce large quantities of compost, a reliable and regular supply of green waste is crucial. As part of a study run in 2004, compost producers were asked to provide information on the sources of wastes they composted, which included household wastes collected from household waste recycling centres (HWRC) and through kerbside collections.

Growth lies at the kerbside

Survey results suggested that the dynamics between HWRC and kerbside collection were beginning to change. The quantity collected from HWRC remained similar to that reported in 2001-2, whereas the quantity of green waste collected from the kerbside had more than doubled. With 247 out of the UK’s 468 local authorities now undertaking kerbside collections of green waste, the quantity estimated for 2005-6 is much higher.

South Oxfordshire District Council has recently started a kerbside collection of green waste paid for by residents. The council supplies the waste to Agrivert, an Oxfordshire-based company that produces and supplies fertiliser nationwide. The council’s scheme began last month and it has already experienced an influx of orders for collection bins. Having delivered 4,000 collection bins, a further 2,000 households have already signed up to participate.

Fred Thompson Brown, senior waste management officer at South Oxfordshire District Council, says: “We have been really impressed with the local uptake of green waste kerbside collection and have seen orders for bins go through the roof.”

At this early stage, the council is providing 150 tonnes of green waste per month to Agrivert for processing, but it is intending to roll out the kerbside collection of green waste to more homes in the area and quantities are expected to soar.

Harry Waters, sales & marketing director at Agrivert, says: “It’s great to see demand for the bins in South Oxfordshire. Although our compost has always been of a high standard, the green waste collected by the council is made up predominantly of leaves and grass which complements the woodier carbon rich waste already delivered to the site from the CA sites.

“We now have the perfect nitrogen-carbon balance and compost structure to generate the optimum composting conditions and therefore a very high quality finished product.”

There have been a number of crucial developments in the past few years, including the introduction of market-specific standards and specifications which exist to ensure customer confidence in compost.

The British Standards Institution’s ‘Publicly Available Specification for Composted Materials’ (BSI PAS 100) sets out a minimum compost quality baseline upon which composters should build as appropriate for the product types and markets they are targeting. As more local authorities adopt kerbside collection schemes of green waste, there is greater potential for growth in the composting industry and an even stronger infrastructure as compost producers work with crucial partners like local authorities.

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