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Consultation on the proposed use of catering waste containing
meat in composting and biogas treatment

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Our reference: AWD415

To: Interested parties


20 November 2002


Dear Sir/Madam

PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON THE PROPOSED USE OF CATERING WASTE CONTAINING MEAT IN COMPOSTING AND BIOGAS TREATMENT

Introduction

1. I am writing to seek your comments on the enclosed draft Statutory Instrument, which sets out new controls on catering waste from premises handling meat, allowing such material to be used in composting and biogas processing plants, subject to certain minimum treatment and hygiene standards.

Reason for the proposal

2. Under the Waste Strategy 2000, the Government has strict targets to meet for the recycling or composting of domestic waste. By 2005, 25% of all household waste must be recycled or composted. Under the EU Landfill Directive, the UK also has to meet targets for the reduction of biodegradable municipal waste sent for landfill. By 2020 the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent for landfill must be reduced to 35% of the amount produced in 1995. Composting and biogas digestion are seen as vital tools for achieving these targets.

3. Under the Animal By-Products Order 1999 (as amended) it is an offence to allow livestock (which includes birds) access to catering waste containing meat or products of animal origin, or catering waste which originates from a premises on which meat or products of animal origin are handled. The aim is to prevent the introduction and spread of serious animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease that can be in the meat. Although this does not prevent the composting or biogas treatment of catering waste containing meat or products of animal origin, it does prevent its use on land (whether treated or not), effectively banning composting and biogas digestion as treatment and recovery methods for such catering waste.

4. The new EU Animal By-Products Regulation (EC 1774/2002, expected to come into force at the end of April 2003) will permit the use of composting and biogas treatments for catering waste and low-risk animal by-products. Animal by-products must be treated to at least the EU standard, which is 700C for 1 hour. However, for plants which process only catering waste (not animal by-products), the Regulation allows Member States to specify their own standards at national level, provided that these standards guarantee an equivalent level of pathogen removal. To this end, we commissioned a risk assessment examining the risks to public and animal health from the use of catering waste in composting and biogas treatment processes. The risk assessment makes recommendations on alternative treatment standards which are at least as effective as the EU standard.

5. We are now looking to amend the Animal By-Products Order 1999 to permit the treatment of catering waste in composting and biogas plants. We are able to do this in advance of the coming into force of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation because catering waste is not controlled by the current EU rules (Council Directive 90/667/EEC, the 'Animal Waste Directive'). Animal by-products however are controlled by the current EU rules, which do not permit composting or biogas treatment as waste treatment and recovery routes, and we therefore cannot permit the treatment of animal by-products in composting and biogas plants until the new Regulation comes into force and replaces the Animal Waste Directive.

Aim of the proposal

6. To amend UK law (the Animal By-Products Order 1999) to permit the treatment in approved composting and biogas plants of catering waste which comes from premises handling meat or products of animal origin.

Scope of the proposal

7. The proposal applies to catering waste from premises handling meat or products of animal origin. Catering waste from premises on which meat or products of animal origin are not handled may already be treated in composting or biogas plants, and is not affected by this proposal. Green waste is not affected by the proposal. Domestic householders wishing to compost their own kitchen scraps on their own compost heap are exempt from the rules, provided that they do not keep pigs, ruminants or poultry on the premises (see paragraph 9 below). However, the disposal of meat scraps in garden compost heaps is not recommended. Doing so can increase the risk of spreading disease via scavenging wildlife to livestock.

Main Issues

(i) use of housed windrows

8. The EU Regulation requires that the composting of catering waste containing meat must take place in a 'closed composting reactor'. This means that catering waste containing meat cannot be treated in an open windrow (except as a second stage after it has first been treated in a closed reactor). Green waste may continue to be composted in open windrows, and is not affected by the new rules. It is less clear whether a housed windrow would qualify as a 'closed composting reactor', or whether the phrase was intended only to cover in-vessel composting methods. We are seeking clarification from the Commission on this point. In the meantime, we have drafted the proposed Amendment on the assumption that housed windrows will be permitted. Please note that this is a consultation position, and is subject to agreement by the Commission. It is therefore possible that housed windrows will not be permitted.

(ii) composting on premises where ruminants, pigs or poultry are kept

9. Veterinary advice, supported by the risk assessment, is that composting of catering waste containing meat should not be done on premises on which ruminants or pigs are kept. On premises where poultry are kept, composting should be done in a closed container or composting bin. Infected meat in catering waste is thought to be the cause of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 and the Classical swine fever outbreak in 2000. It is very important that livestock susceptible to diseases that may be transmitted in waste food are kept away from catering waste containing meat. We have therefore included a statutory ban on composting on any premises where ruminants or pigs are kept. Premises where poultry are kept will be able to compost their own kitchen waste, provided that it is done in a closed container.

10. This means that no farmer who keeps ruminants or pigs could diversify into commercial composting of animal by-products or catering waste. The only exception to this would be if in seeking approval for the composting operation, he/she could demonstrate that the two enterprises were entirely separate, for example with no direct access between the two, separate entrances to the two sites and separate equipment and personnel.

11. These restrictions also apply to domestic householders who keep ruminants, pigs or poultry. If you keep a pet pig or any pet ruminant, you must not compost catering waste on your premises. This includes food waste from your own kitchen. If you keep poultry, you may compost your own kitchen waste, provided that you do so in a closed container.

(iii) definition of catering waste

12. The current UK definition of catering waste in the Animal By-Products Order is broader than the EU definition of catering waste which will be adopted when the Regulation comes into force. The following paragraphs explain the implications this will have. Table 1 below summarises the position.

13. The current UK definition covers: (a) waste from catering and domestic waste; (b) waste from the production of products which are intended to be used for human consumption without further cooking; or (c) waste from the production of bread, cakes, pasta, pastry, pizzas and similar products (whether or not intended to be used for human consumption without further cooking). The Animal By-Products Order controls such catering waste when it contains or has been in contact with meat or products of animal origin, or originates on premises handling meat or products or animal origin.

14. Under the EU Regulation, the definition of catering waste will be 'all waste food originating in restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens, including central kitchens and household kitchens'. Essentially, this covers the same material as (a) under the current UK rules. This means that when the Regulation comes into force, some material which is currently classed as catering waste will become animal by-products, and must be disposed of accordingly.

15. This leaves us with three streams of waste material to consider: (i) material which is currently defined as catering waste, and will continue to be so defined when the Regulation comes into force; (ii) material which is currently defined as catering waste, but will become animal by-products under the Regulation; and (iii) animal by-products.

16. Composting and biogas plants receiving only material of type (i) may be approved to operate using any of the treatment standards specified in the proposed Amendment Order.

17. We strenuously recommend that composting and biogas plants receiving material of type (ii) should operate to the EU standard of at least 700C for 1 hour. Material of this type will be required to be treated to the EU standard once the Regulation comes into force, and a plant processing such material to a national standard under the proposed Amendment to the Animal By-Products Order would face having to change to the EU standard upon the introduction of the Regulation. This would mean not only having to change the treatment standard to which the material is processed, but also the premises would have to seek a new approval. In light of this, we advise you not to use type (ii) material unless you are using the 700C EU standard.

18. It will remain illegal to receive animal by-products (type (iii) material) for composting or biogas processing until the introduction of the Regulation. At that time the 700C EU standard will apply.

Table 1: Waste Streams in ABPO and the new EU Regulation

Class of material

Examples

Waste Stream (para 15)

Will I be able to treat it under this Amendment?

Treatment Standard

Catering Waste ABPO definition part (a)/ Catering Waste as defined in EU Regulation*

Restaurant waste, catering facility and domestic kitchen waste

(i)

Yes.

EU standard or a UK national standard

Catering Waste
ABPO definition part (b)*

Factory waste from production of products which do not require further cooking - e.g. pasties, pork pies, scotch eggs

(ii)

Yes, but following the introduction of the EU Regulation, this material will be classified as animal by-products.

After introduction of EU Regulation, EU standard only

Catering Waste
ABPO definition part (c)*

Bread, cakes, pastry, pasta, pizza and similar products (whether or not intended to require further cooking)

(ii)

Yes, but following the introduction of the EU Regulation, this material will be classified as animal by-products.

After introduction of EU Regulation, EU standard only

Low risk animal by-products/ EU Regulation category 3 material

Parts of animal carcases, slaughterhouse waste, raw meat waste from food factories

(iii)

Not under this proposal. This material cannot be used in compost or biogas plants prior to the new EU Regulation.


After introduction of EU Regulation, EU standard only

High risk animal by-products/ EU Regulation category 1 and 2 material

TSE suspects, diseased animals, fallen stock

(iii)

No.

Cannot be used.

*these definitions apply where the catering waste contains meat or products of animal origin, or comes from premises handling meat or products of animal origin.


Future action

19. Comments are requested by Wednesday 12 February 2003 at the latest to Jon Rouse, Area 305, 1A Page Street, London, SW1P 4PQ or by email to: jonathan.rouse@defra.gsi.gov.uk. The final date for comment is 12 weeks from the date of this letter. All comments are welcome, but views are particularly sought on the issues of permitting housed windrows, and banning composting on premises where pigs or ruminants are present. Industry estimates of compliance costs are also sought.

20. Application forms for premises approval should be available in January. You will need to contact your local Animal Health Divisional Office to get a form. We are setting up the administrative requirements that will be necessary to process approvals. Please do not contact your local Divisional Office about approvals before January.

21. We hope to have the final Statutory Instrument made as soon as possible after the close of the consultation, though obviously we will need time to assess the consultation responses and make any changes that may be required. We aim if possible to get the new rules in place in March 2003. The EU Regulation should come into force at the end of April 2003.

22. If you are aware of any organisations or individuals that might be interested in seeing this letter, please let me know and I will arrange for a copy to be sent to them. These documents are also available in electronic format on Defra's website www.defra.gov.uk under "consultations". This consultation covers England only. Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are consulting separately on this proposal.

23. At the end of the consultation period, we intend to make publicly available copies of the comments received. It is assumed, therefore, that your reply can be made publicly available unless you indicate clearly in your response that you wish all or part of it to be excluded from this arrangement. Copies of comments will be made available at the main Defra Library at 3 Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2HH (Tel: 08459 335 577 - calls charged at local rates). Copies will be supplied on request but there will be an administrative charge to cover copying and postage. To enable requests to be dealt with efficiently and to avoid undue delay for those calling at the Library in person, it would be appreciated if personal callers could give at least 24 hours notice of their requirements.

Yours sincerely


Jon Rouse
BSE Branch B



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Consultation on the proposed use of catering waste containing
meat in composting and biogas treatment

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Purpose and intended effect

 

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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 700C 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 700C 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.



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