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Purpose and intended effect

Proposed Amendment to the Animal By-Products Order 1999 to permit the use of catering waste containing meat in composting and biogas treatment

Objective

1. The objective is to permit the treatment in composting and biogas plants of catering waste that contains or might contain meat or products of animal origin. Plants must be approved for the purpose and conform to minimum treatment and hygiene standards, so that the risks to public and animal health are acceptably low and the resulting compost or digestion residues may be safely spread to land. Permitting the composting or biogas processing of catering waste containing meat will help reduce the volume of biodegradable waste going to landfill and help create a more sustainable treatment and recovery route for catering waste.

Issue

2. The Animal By-Products Order 1999 (as amended) prevents the disposal of catering waste which might contain meat in a way that enables livestock or birds to have access to it. Although this does not prevent composting or treatment in a biogas plant, it prevents the treated material being spread to land, so has effectively banned these treatments. The aim is to prevent the introduction and spread of serious animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and Classical swine fever.

3. The new EU Animal By-Products Regulation (EC 1774/2002, expected to come into force in spring 2003) will permit the treatment in composting and biogas plants of catering waste containing meat and low-risk animal by-products. The treatment standard in the Regulation is 70C for 1 hour in a closed system. However, for plants processing only catering waste (not animal by-products), the Regulation allows national standards to be set, provided they guarantee an equivalent effect in pathogen reduction. The UK conducted a risk assessment to examine whether alternative standards could be permitted (see paragraph 7 below).

4. The current EU rules (Directive 90/667/EEC, the 'Animal Waste Directive') govern the disposal of animal by-products, but do not control catering waste. Therefore we are able to introduce national rules on the composting and biogas treatment of catering waste in advance of the coming into force of the new EU rules. We cannot permit the treatment of animal by-products in composting and biogas plants in advance of the new EU Animal By-Products Regulation, as this would breach current EU law.

5. The UK is also required to meet stringent targets under the EU Landfill Directive for reduction of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill. By 2020 the amount of biodegradable municipal waste must be reduced to 35% of that produced in 1995. The UK Government has also set recycling and composting targets under Waste Strategy 2000. By 2005, at least 25% of household waste should be recycled or composted. Composting and biogas treatment are expected to be a vital tool in achieving both Landfill Directive and Waste Strategy 2000 targets and increasing the sustainability of biodegradable waste treatment and recovery.

6. In light of these targets and industry interest, we are therefore seeking to permit the composting and biogas treatment of catering waste containing meat or products of animal origin as soon as possible, introducing national controls in advance of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation.

Risk Assessment

7. Defra commissioned a risk assessment to examine the potential risks to public and animal health from the composting/biogas treatment of catering waste containing meat. Pathogens considered in the risk assessment include TSEs (e.g. BSE and scrapie), exotic diseases (e.g. Classical swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease) and endemic/conventional pathogens (e.g. salmonella, E. coli).

8. The risk assessment concluded that the composting/biogas processing of catering waste containing meat could be done safely provided that certain minimum treatment standards were applied.

Catering waste will contain vegetable material as well as meat material, and as such the use of composted waste on land may pose a risk to plant health. The risk assessment has considered the risks to plant health in principle but more detailed work needs to be done to assess the risk to crop production. Meanwhile, plant health risks should be managed by following existing guidance on composting as published in Defra's Plant Health Code of Practice for the Management of Agricultural and Horticultural Waste (PB 3580).

9. A copy of the Executive Summary of the risk assessment is attached at Annex I. The full risk assessment is available on the Defra web site at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/by-prods/cater/comprisk.htm

10. Printed copies are available from BSE Division in Defra. Please contact Sam Pochen, Area 305, 1a Page Street, London, SW1P 4PQ (Tel: 020 7904 6407).

Options

11. We have identified three main options:

Option 1 Do nothing

12. This option would not alter the risk of unsafe material being spread to land and posing a risk to animal and public health. There would not be any cost implications for industry as controls would not change, and composting of catering waste containing meat would remain effectively illegal. However, following the introduction of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation, failure to act would leave the UK in breach of its obligation to implement EU legislation. The UK would also face EU fines if targets for reduction of waste to landfill are not met.

Option 2 Adopt the EU composting and biogas treatment standard

13. This would meet our obligation to implement EU legislation. The EU standard is treatment at 70C for 1 hour with maximum 12mm particle size. However, allowing only one treatment standard would restrict the number of premises able to comply with the new rules. Consequently targets set under the EU Landfill Directive and Waste Strategy 2000 would be more difficult to meet than under Option 3.

Option 3 Adopt national rules for treatment standards

14. This would also meet our obligation to implement EU legislation. The EU rules allow Member States to adopt national standards for the composting and biogas treatment of catering waste, provided that these standards guarantee an equivalent level of pathogen removal to the EU standard. The risk assessment commissioned by DEFRA has demonstrated that alternative methods to the EU standard can achieve equivalent pathogen removal. This option would allow plants to meet one of the national standards, or they may choose to comply with the EU standard. Allowing a range of treatment standards maximises the number of different composting and biogas systems used by industry that will be able to conform with the new rules. This in turn maximises the volume of material treated in composting and biogas plants, and will contribute most to meeting targets set under the EU Landfill Directive and Waste Strategy 2000.

Issues of Equity and Fairness

15. Catering waste is not controlled by the current EU Animal Waste Directive and therefore we have scope to amend national legislation in advance of the introduction of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation, but in respect of catering waste only. We cannot permit the treatment of animal by-products in composting or biogas plants in advance of the new Regulation, as this would contravene the current EU rules.

16. Premises seeking to handle catering waste containing meat will need to achieve minimum hygiene standards in line with those laid down in the Regulation necessary to ensure that material is treated safely and cross-contamination of final product with raw material does not occur.

Benefits

16. Option 1 - no perceived benefit as the rules would not change. Upon introduction of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation, the UK would be in breach of its obligation to implement EU legislation and would be open to legal challenge. Furthermore, Government and EU targets on recycling and reduction of biodegradable municipal waste to landfill would be compromised. Failure to divert sufficient biodegradable municipal waste from landfill could lead to UK facing EU fines of up to 0.4m per day.

17. Option 2 - limited benefit in that it would allow catering waste containing meat to be used in composting and biogas plants, but only plants able to comply with the EU standard could be approved. This would limit the composting and biogas methods able to be used, and many premises would not be able to comply.

18. Option 3 - has the greatest benefit for industry in that it allows a range of different treatment methods to be used, maximising the number of operators that may be able to comply with the required treatment standards.

Compliance Costs for Business

Business sectors affected

19. Composting and biogas plants. Premises generating catering waste (restaurants and other facilities producing food for consumption on the premises) will have an alternative disposal route (most catering waste currently goes to landfill). As the catering waste covered by this Amendment includes domestic kitchen waste, Local Authority municipal waste disposal will also be affected.

Compliance costs for a typical business

(i) Composting plants

Estimated figures for windrow and in-vessel systems:

Capital costs of a housed windrow plant range between about 700,000 for a 10,000 tonnes per year capacity, to 1.8 million for 50,000 tonnes per year. Operating costs for windrow systems are estimated at 14-18 per tonne.

Capital costs of an in-vessel composting plant range between 1 million - 5 million for plants with capacity between 10,000 tonnes per year to 100,000 tonnes per year. Operating costs for an in-vessel system are estimated at 20-30 per tonne.

(ii) Biogas plants

The capital cost of a 10,000 tonne per year biogas plant for catering waste is estimated to be 1.8 million excluding the cost of the land. The operating cost for labour, maintenance, management and digestate disposal, but excluding finance, depreciation, land costs and rates, is 15 per tonne. The income from the sale of green electricity is expected to be a minimum of 12 per tonne, giving net operating costs of 3 per tonne.

The economic measure for a small business as well as local authorities will be the gate fee which a biogas plant will charge for safely recycling catering waste. For a 10,000 tonne per year plant we would expect this to be between 40 and 50 per tonne.

Total compliance costs

[ comments and estimates sought from industry]

Impact on small business

Many of the businesses affected will be small businesses. Due to the fact that the premises hygiene standards in the Regulation are applicable to all premises, the compliance cost for a typical business can be assumed to apply equally to a small business.

Other costs

There will be additional costs to the Government in order to enforce the new Regulation. These will primarily be due to inspection and monitoring of premises. Composting and biogas plants are currently licensed by the Environment Agency. If they are permitted to treat catering waste containing meat, premises will also need to be inspected and approved by Defra veterinary field staff for animal health and disease control purposes. Given the nature of the anticipated changes it is possible that some of the existing waste management licences [of which there is an estimated 70 in England/Wales] will need to be modified. The current charge to the operator to modify a waste management licence is 850.. The additional costs to the Government for these inspections is expected to be 0.5m p.a. Defra does not currently intend to charge industry for the Defra approval.

Competition assessment

The proposal should not have a detrimental effect on competition. The proposal does not restrict or otherwise affect premises composting only green waste. It is a commercial decision whether premises will wish also to process catering waste containing meat. All premises wishing to process catering waste containing meat will need to comply with the treatment and hygiene standards set out in the legislation. The legislation does not lead to higher set-up costs for new or potential firms than existing firms, as the minimum hygiene requirements are the same for all premises. The legislation also does not require higher ongoing costs for new or potential firms than existing firms nor does it restrict the ability of firms to choose the price, quality, range or location of their products.

Results of consultation

[To be completed]

Summary and recommendations

[To be completed]

Enforcement, Sanctions, Monitoring and Review

Enforcement of the measures would be undertaken by the Local Authority. Inspections and approvals would be undertaken by the State Veterinary Service. Premises would be monitored by regular site inspections and record-keeping requirements. The relevant Animal Health Regulators and the Environment Agency will work together to ensure smooth transition and efficient consistent regulation.

Page published: 20 November 2002
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