UK composting industry is booming

21st February 2011

The UK composting industry has experienced a period of strong growth, according to figures released today. The amount of waste composted in 2007/8 rose by nine per cent from the previous year and further growth is predicted in the annual WRAP and AFOR survey.

As demand for composted products continued to increase, the industry turned over   more than £165m in the year to April 2008. In total, 4.5 million tonnes of separately collected waste was composted in the UK in 2007/2008.

Many of the 107 companies who took part in the survey said they were planning to expand their operations in the near future and around 600,000 tonnes of extra production capacity is expected to become available in the next five years.

Confidence in the market is being driven by continued increases in local authority food waste collections. Currently, 85 per cent of all material composted is garden waste.

The survey of the UK organics recycling industry is undertaken annually by AFOR (Association for Organics Recycling) and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) to provide an accurate picture of the industry and its development.

Most of the organic waste collected (88 per cent) during the report period was municipal waste.  Agriculture was the biggest market for composted products (47 per cent or 1.3 million tonnes).  Other key uses include restoration (389,000 tonnes) and landscaping (354,000 tonnes).

As demand for compost continues to grow it is ever more important that end users have complete confidence in the product. The survey found that an encouraging 36 per cent of compost produced in the UK from source segregated waste is fully certified to BSI PAS 100 (the national specification for quality compost). This figure is expected to rise further over the coming years.

Dr Richard Swannell, Director of Retail and Organics at WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) said: “The composting industry has experienced phenomenal growth and this will continue as food waste collections take off.

“Our research shows that compost producers are well placed to meet the growing demand for food waste processing.  The drive to produce quality outputs, shown in the survey, will be key to the development of the industry in the future.”

Jeremy Jacobs, Managing Director of AFOR, said: “Food waste processing has huge potential for the UK’s composting and biological treatment industry.

“As we begin to rely on this sector for renewable energy, via Anaerobic Digestion, as well as composted products – waste will increasingly be seen as a valuable commodity – not a problem.”

To download The State of Composting and Biological Waste Treatment in the UK 2007/8 report http://www.organics-recycling.org.uk/

  • WRAP helps individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change.
  • Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Working in seven key areas (Construction, Retail, Manufacturing, Organics, Business Growth, Behavioural Change, and Local Authority Support), WRAP’s work focuses on market development and support to drive forward recycling and materials resource efficiency within these sectors, as well as wider communications and awareness activities including the multi-media national Recycle Now campaign for England.
  • More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on www.wrap.org.uk

AFOR

The Association for Organics Recycling is the UK’s leading membership organisation for the composting and biological waste treatment industries.  It is committed to the sustainable management of biodegradable resources.  It promotes the benefits of composting and other biological treatment techniques and the use of biologically treated materials for the enhancement of the environment, business and society.