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Industry boosts and strategic opportunities

Mark Richmond, Technical Director, WRM Ltd will be contributing to the ADBA National Conference 2021, 16-17 February with commentary on what to expect from the forthcoming Resources and Waste strategy consultation. Prior to this he has written a blog to introduce what he will be speaking about on 17 February.


The continued growth of the UK anaerobic digestion sector received a significant boost in December 2019 when the publication of the Resources and Waste Strategy for England set out a requirement for all local authorities to offer a weekly separate collection of food waste to all residential properties.  The fact that the strategy directly referenced anaerobic digestion as a preferred treatment route for household collections was seen by many as a bonus for the AD industry, particularly given the technology neutral position that is often associated with central government.

Fast forward 25 months from the draft strategy publication, and the initial enthusiasm and momentum seems to have been tempered by a further round of consultation, and also references to exemptions which may excuse the source segregated food waste collection requirement for some local authorities.

So how does this driver, which is central to the growth of key segments of the AD industry, look to influence feedstock availability over the course of 2021?

Operationally, it will do little to address the national capacity surplus across food waste treatment assets, many of which have also been hit hard by the downturn in commercial food waste volumes during the pandemic. New contract opportunities remain limited with many contracts being extended or being let on a short term or interim basis.

But strategically, 2021 will be an important year for AD sites in understanding and identifying long term food waste supply opportunities.  The insight and guidance that will be provided by DEFRA’s response to the forthcoming industry consultation will provide clarity on individual local authority obligations.  This in turn will provide a platform for much needed engagement between local government and our industry to ensure that objectives are mutually recognised and reflected in future procurements for organic waste treatment services. And whilst we see some strong examples of public sector soft market testing, the AD industry must recognise the role they must play in representing their services to ensure that the strategic opportunities of 2021 are not lost.

By Mark Richmond


Mark  will be contributing to the ADBA National Conference 2021 with commentary on what to expect from the forthcoming Resources and Waste strategy consultation, and he will be providing insight from local authorities who are considering how to meet their mandatory food waste collection requirement.


Mark Richmond is a Technical Director at WRM and is a Chartered Waste Manager with sixteen years’ experience of wastes management. He has specific experience in developing waste and recycling strategy, assessing the feasibility of recycling collection services and organic waste processing facilities, managing service and infrastructure procurements, and undertaking investment due diligence. He has a personal interest in sustainable agriculture systems and supports the development of the waste and recycling industry as Chair of the North-East CIWM.

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