Previously only suitably treated green wastes had been permitted as sources of nutrients and soil improvers under organic regulations.

However Defra has now confirmed that source-separated household waste can be used as agricultural soil conditioner or fertiliser if it is processed and certified to composting or anaerobic digestion standards – PAS 100 and 110 respectively.

The ability to use these materials could have significant value to organic producers who have high demands for suitable inputs, but have to sometimes seek them off-farm – such as arable farms with no livestock of their own, or organic horticultural units. 

However, according to inspection and certification provider Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G), there will still need to be controls on the use of these materials to ensure farmers and growers employing them continue to meet organic regulations. 

OF&G chief executive, Richard Jacobs, said: “We must stress [this] is not a blanket go-ahead for the use of source-separated household waste.

“The PAS 100 and PAS 110 standards allow for approximately twice the level of heavy metals than is permitted in the organic regulation, so farmers using these inputs will need to ensure they have the results of analysis on any supply they take and share those with us before applying the fertiliser or soil conditioner. 

OF&G will be requiring its licensees to obtain approval before taking compost or digestate from source-separated waste.

Maxine Perella

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