Best Practice Certification Scheme

1.     What is the Best Practice Certification Scheme?

ADBA has been working on the Best Practice Scheme since 2015 and the development of the Certification Scheme is the second phase of the project (with the first phase being the publication of three Best Practice Checklists). A Certification Scheme sets out defined criteria which an applicant (in this case, an AD operator) must demonstrate that they meet in order to be certified under that scheme. The Best Practice Scheme will be voluntary but operators that successfully become certified will have access to a range of tangible benefits - keep reading to find out more! We aim to open the scheme in autumn 2017 following our pilot in summer 2017.

2.     What does the scheme cover and who is it for?

The scheme criteria relate to the management and operation of AD plants, including environmental risk management, staff training and competence, health and safety management, maintenance and more.

The scheme documents for the pilot can be downloaded by clicking on the links below:

Scheme Rules (pilot version)

Scheme Criteria (pilot version)

The pilot is taking place over the summer 2017, as far as possible in accordance with the above scheme documents. We will continue to accept feedback on the content so if you do have comments, please let us know (contact details at the end of this page).

The scheme will be open to all AD plants, with the exception of those in the sewage treatment sector. During our pilot, its inclusivity to different sizes and types of AD plants will be an area of focus. It will be applicable across the UK.

3.     Why should operators be interested in signing up to the scheme?

We will be setting out the business case for operators to participate in the scheme ahead of its opening in autumn. We believe that the scheme will deliver excellent benefits to the industry.

We are working hard to secure the following financial/business benefits:

  • Discounted insurance costs and more favourable terms (ADBA has announced a partnership with Jelf Insurance Brokers – click here).
  • Reduced regulatory costs and lighter touch regulation.
  • Better financing and refinancing deals.


Further to the above financial benefits, participating operators will enjoy:

  • Recommendations for improvement by an independent third party.
  • Enhanced confidence that their management systems and operations are in line with industry practice.
  • Improved staff safety and environmental protection.
  • Greater understanding of overall performance.
  • Marketing and branding tool, giving a competitive edge.
  • A means of demonstrating to their neighbours that they strive to meet high industry standards.


4.     How have we developed the scheme?

The scheme documents were drafted by ADBA with input and direction from a number of industry stakeholders. You can see who we have been working with here.

When we initially began working on the project in 2015, we undertook a survey of our members and of our steering group and regulators, to ensure we had a full understanding of the priorities that needed addressing. We then collated the results of this and came up with a two stage Delivery Plan. The first year’s output was three guidance documents – Best Practice Checklists in Risk Management, Operational Performance and Procurement – which are intended to be helpful reference documents. They were published in 2016 and you can download them free here.

Since the publication of the checklists, we have developed their content into a Certification Scheme, set out in two core documents – the pilot Scheme Rules and the Scheme Criteria. These form the foundation of our Certification Scheme and have undergone extension industry consultation. We have been delighted at the interest and input we have received from the industry and have great confidence in the documents. They will be further tested and refined through the process of undertaking the pilot of the scheme (see below).

5.     Pilot

The pilot will involve test-running the certification process at a range of AD plants, with operators who have volunteered to take part. We had a good level of interest from operators in being involved in this and are unfortunately unable to include all those who volunteered at this stage. However, we do encourage all operators to review the scheme documents and provide us with feedback, especially relating to the feasibility of scheme criteria.

The desired outcomes of the pilot include:

  • Identification of any unforeseen issues with the scheme criteria or scheme rules, in particular highlighting anything that was difficult or impossible to audit or for operators to achieve.
  • Improved understanding of the differences in appropriate audit approach at different types of AD plant.
  • Improved understanding of the time requirements on the part of the auditor and the operator being audited, including preparation time and write-up time.
  • Refinement of wording and language of the criteria.
  • Facilitation of the sharing of information and background knowledge with the certification body.


Pilot team

The pilot will be undertaken by the pilot team shown below.

 - Nick Johnn, Senior Consultant, Aardvark Certification Ltd

Aardvark Certification Ltd is a specialist auditing and certification body with specialist expertise in the biowaste sector. Their sector-specific knowledge combined with experience in certification processes makes them a very suitable certification body for us to work with in our pilot.

- Dr Amaya Arias-Garcia, Technical Director, Goals PME

Amaya is the chair of the Best Practice Scheme steering group and has a wealth of technical expertise in the AD sector, having worked on a wide range of AD projects.

- Jess Allan, Environment and Regulation Manager, ADBA

Jess manages the development of the Best Practice Scheme and will work collaboratively with Nick and Amaya to observe the certification process in practice.

6.     When can operators apply to the scheme?

We will be looking to open the scheme in autumn 2017. We will be undertaking the pilot in July-August 2017 and reviewing the findings in September 2017. We will then progress to opening the scheme to applicants as quickly as possible.

7.     How to get involved

Do you have feedback or suggestions?

Would you like to express interest in signing up to the scheme?

Get in touch to let us know.

This project is coordinated by ADBA’s Environment and Regulation Manager, Jess Allan. You can contact Jess by email at

What do people think?

Carl Gurney, Renewable Energy Director at Jelf Group, said:

‘We’re delighted to announce our partnership with ADBA to provide a world-class insurance service for AD operators. ADBA’s Best Practice Scheme, combined with Jelf Insurance Brokers’ access to exclusive insurance policies and risk management consultancy, allows operators to access lower-cost and more favourable insurance terms in return for meeting the highest environmental, health and safety, and operational standards. This scheme will allow those running AD plants to raise their performance and improve their bottom line, providing a “win-win” for an industry that has so much to offer.’

Dr Amaya Arias-Garcia, Technical Director at GOALS Project Management & Engineering, Chair of the Best Practice Scheme Steering Group, said:

‘The Best Practice Scheme is an opportunity for the AD industry to make a positive demonstration of its commitment to environmental protection and high health-and-safety standards. Operators, engineers, technology suppliers, and developers are constantly seeking ways to optimise their performance. The scheme provides a focused approach to facilitate the application of safe engineering and design principles, safe operating practices and safe optimisation of processes, which in turn will improve industry performance.’

Nick Green, Technical Lead on the Environment Agency National AD project, said:

'The Best Practice eme is a great opportunity for AD operators to develop their skills and expertise in meeting the highest environmental, health and safety, and operational standards. It’s critical not only for the AD industry itself but also for local communities and the environment as a whole for AD plants to have clear plans in place to ensure sites and operating procedures meet these standards.’