Compost leads the way with first Quality Protocol

Press Releasein Industry News
A new initiative making it easier for businesses and industry to produce more compost and reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfill was launched today by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) and the Environment Agency.

Martin Brocklehurst, Head of Environmental Protection External Programmes for the Environment Agency, said: "Under the Quality Protocol for Compost, producers will be able to create compost which is no longer classed as a waste, making it a more marketable product to those who buy it, as it allows them to spread compost on to land without the need to register with the Environment Agency for a waste exemption.

"This will boost the UK composting market by making it easier for businesses to market their compost as a desirable quality product to key markets such as landscaping, agriculture and horticulture. These markets can also be confident that the compost they are buying will be of a high environmental standard.

"The Protocol also demonstrates the benefits of working in collaboration with trade bodies, business and industry to develop solutions that meets the needs of the markets whilst also protecting the environment. It is a good example of the Environment Agency and WRAP easing regulation and creating new business opportunities."

The Quality Protocol, which will apply in England and Wales, has been developed with key players in the composting industry, including The Composting Association (TCA) and the Environmental Services Association (ESA). It sets out the criteria for the production of quality compost from different types of source segregated biowaste like food and garden plant waste.

The Quality Protocol will also benefit local authorities, compost customers and composting producers by:

  • Allowing local authorities to be more confident that organic waste that they send for recycling is composted to a high standard helping them to meet Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) targets;
  • Protecting the environment (including soil) and human health - by describing acceptable best practice for the use of quality compost on land;

  • Easing regulation - by defining when the compost ceases to be waste and waste regulatory controls are no longer required.
Martin Brocklehurst continued: "This Protocol is the first of a series that will help turn our waste into valuable and useful products and is part of our drive to help to reduce the millions of tonnes of waste that ends up in landfill every year. We are currently working alongside WRAP to produce further protocols on

other types of waste such as tyres, flat glass, waste oils and wood."

The Quality Protocol has been published today and will come into force at the end of Compost Awareness Week (6 - 12 May 2007). This will give producers and users time to put in place any additional measures necessary to meet the requirements of the Protocol before it comes into effect.

WRAP's Director of Organics Richard Swannell commented:

"This is major milestone for the composting industry and for the development of a resource economy in the UK. It will allow composters to manufacture quality products free of the 'waste' tag, building customer confidence and leading to further growth in this fast expanding industry."

"The composting sector has already shown its commitment to quality standards, and the 100 plus companies on the PAS 100 certification scheme are a testament to this," said TCA Chief Executive Jane Gilbert. "By providing a framework within which quality compost is no longer classified as waste, the Quality Protocol will provide the industry with much needed clarity, enabling businesses to develop sustainable markets and realise the full potential of compost products."

ESA Director of Policy Mike Walker said:

"Standards are crucial to build confidence in recycled and recovered materials. Operators need to know what they must do to ensure a consistent quality, and users of recycled products need to know what the product is and how it can be used. This protocol is a useful step towards getting more materials into the productive economy."

Many compost producers took part in the consultation process and the objectives of the Quality Protocol are widely supported across the industry.

"The Quality Protocol is a big step forward for the industry, which SITA fully supports. We expect that APEX compost will meet and go beyond the requirements of the QP," says Dr Stephen Wise, General Manager for SITA Organics.

Harry Waters, Sales & Marketing Director for compost producer Agrivert says:

"We welcome the publication of the new protocol. As a PAS 100 producer, we feel that the publication of the protocol will reaffirm the public's perception that compost is a product and not a waste and that it will encourage recycling on a very much broader front. Agrivert, like the rest of the industry, applauds such a common sense approach."

To be compliant with the Quality Protocol, compost producers who are already certified to BSI PAS 100 (a recognised industry standard which many compost producers currently adhere to) or in the process of gaining certification, will need to check that they are only composting types of waste that are allowed in the protocol. They will also have to ensure that they keep the additional records required from 11 May 2007 onwards.

Those that are not in the process of attaining BSI PAS100 certification will have until the 15 November 2007 to register with a certification body and pay their registration fee. If this is not done, then the compost produced from these facilities can only be used in the following ways:

  • Spread to land by getting an exemption from the Environment Agency; or

  • Moved to a licensed waste management site for disposal.
Special arrangements have been made for community composters and these are outlined in the regulatory impact note published today on the Environment Agency website.

The Composting Association operates a certification scheme to BSI PAS 100, which is being upgraded to incorporate the additional requirements of the QP. At the same time, the certification scheme is currently in the process of being contracted out to independent certification bodies. Hand-over of each producer on the scheme will start from 1st June 2007. In the meantime, all applications for certification will continue to be managed by the Composting Association.

For further information on the Quality Protocol and its implementation, visit

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