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Waste Management: Bedfordshire

Volume 461: debated on Friday 15 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what measures have been put in place to ensure that green waste in Bedfordshire is (a) processed and (b) recycled to required standards; and if he will make a statement; (141681)

(2) what measures the Government are putting in place to ensure material deposited at green waste recycling centres is recycled to acceptable standards; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what measures the Government have put in place to ensure green waste recycling centres meet the terms of their licences; and if he will make a statement.

The Government strongly supports the composting of organic waste. This is an important component of meeting targets for recycling and composting, as well as those under the landfill directive to reduce the landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste.

Composting of green waste is classified as a waste recovery operation under the waste framework directive and is carried out under a waste management license issued by the Environment Agency (EA) or a registered exemption from the need for a license. The EA is the competent authority responsible for carrying out regular inspections on such sites, including those in Bedfordshire, to assess compliance with the license conditions.

Sites operating under a waste management licence must recover or dispose of waste without causing harm to human health or pollution of the environment. This includes causing a nuisance through noise or odour.

The EU Animal By-Products Regulation also applies to the composting of some materials. The regulation permits low-risk animal by-products (‘Category 3’ material) to be composted or treated in an approved composting or biogas plant and treated to an EU standard. Alternative treatment standards are due to be introduced later this year. However, these must demonstrate the capability to meet a specified level of pathogen reduction.

In addition, the DEFRA funded Business Resource Efficiency and Waste programme (BREW), the Waste and Resources Action programme (WRAP) and the EA have developed a quality protocol for compost in consultation with industry and other interested parties. The protocol sets criteria for, and allows, the full recovery, production and use of quality compost from waste organic materials without the need for further regulation beyond the point of production.