Anaerobic digestion and composting rise in recent years welcomed by EPA

Data and information has been released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier today (Thursday, March 15) on composting and anaerobic digestion in Ireland for 2016.

The data updates the National Waste Statistics web resource, launched by the EPA in recent months.

EPA figures show that the amount of waste accepted at commercial composting and anaerobic digestion plants increased by 15% between 2015 and 2016, from 308,000t to 353,000t.

Composting was of course the dominant treatment activity, accounting to 79% of tonnage accepted.

Recycling

Waste collectors are required to provide brown bins to ensure that waste food is collected separately.

In 2016, 174,000t of brown bin waste were accepted at composting and anaerobic digestion facilities for treatment, an increase of 22% on 2015.

Meanwhile, 12% more households had an organic bin in 2016 compared to 2015 and this is a positive outcome from the implementation of the 2013 household food waste regulations, according to the agency.

The amount of brown bin waste being exported to Northern Ireland for recovery rose again in 2016, by over 80%.

Commenting on the figures, Stephen Treacy, EPA, said: “The EPA welcomes the increase in the amount of biodegradable waste being accepted for recycling at composting and anaerobic digestion plants.

Ireland’s national waste management policy ‘A Resource Opportunity’ aims to make the most of opportunities to recover resources from waste in line with the European Commission’s Circular Economy Strategy.

“Segregating and separately collecting biodegradable wastes such as food and garden waste means that they can be recycled and reduces the amount disposed to landfill.”

Treacy concluded by explaining the co-benefits of anaerobic digestion,

“Anaerobic digestion extracts additional value from organic waste due to the possibility of using the captured biogas.

This not only mitigates the effect on climate change but the biogas can displace fossil fuel use, increasing the amount of renewables being used in Ireland.

The 2016 information on ‘Composting and Anaerobic Digestion’ is now available on the EPA website.

Anaerobic digestion

As of the end of last year, there were 43 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants operational in Northern Ireland – almost double the 28 operational just two years ago.

Meanwhile, in the Republic, there are currently 29 AD plants running – up from 22 two years ago.

Experts estimate that Ireland has the potential to be a net exporter of renewable gas by 2050, but the industry is set to face one of its biggest challenges – Brexit – over the next two years.