Zero Waste Scotland welcomes digestate and compost breakthrough

Zero Waste Scotland has welcomed the announcement today (Thursday 13th November 2014) from Quality Meat Scotland that it has declared digestate and compost products from Anaerobic Digestion as safe for farmers to use on their crops.

13 Nov 14

Anaerobic digestion (AD) involves breaking down biodegradable material using micro-organisms in the absence of oxygen. It can be used to treat other organics wastes, including household food waste, farmyard manures and energy crops.

The process of anaerobic digestion provides a source of renewable energy and also produces a rich bio-fertiliser, which is high in valuable nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements required for healthy plant growth and fertile soil. This can then be used back on farmland to grow more food and keep the soil healthy.

There are now 1.3 million homes in Scotland with a food waste collection and most large food business are also required by law to recycle food waste. The move by Quality Meat Scotland will help develop markets for compost and digestate products arising from the expansion of food waste collections in recent years, whilst also providing Quality Meat Scotland members with a sustainable alternative to manufactured fertilisers.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“This decision by Quality Meat Scotland to permit the use of compost and fertiliser products derived from food waste is a breakthrough for a circular economy in Scotland.

“Food and other organic wastes contain nutrients which are important to plant growth, so it’s appropriate they are returned to the soil when it’s safe and right to do so.

“Zero Waste Scotland has worked extensively with the organics recycling sector over several years to develop a robust body of evidence on outputs from compost or anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities.  It’s now clear that these products, when made to a quality specification, do not pose a risk to human or animal health.

“This will help us advance towards our goal of diverting food waste from landfill, on which a great deal of progress has already been made, and will help farmers reduce their reliance on oil-based fertilisers.

“This decision opens up a potential new market for these products, but it is vital that the whole food waste supply chain responds by enabling the organics recycling industry to deliver consistent, high quality materials to farmers who want to use them.  If they do, this is a clear win-win, for farming and for zero waste.”

Notes For Editors

  • For more information on the standards, visit
  • Zero Waste Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of its Zero Waste Plan and other low carbon and resource efficiency policy priorities.
  • Zero Waste Scotland is helping Scotland to become more efficient in its use of resources. As a facilitator and enabler of change, we help to reduce waste, increase energy efficiency and promote responsible water use – all as part of a journey towards a low-carbon, sustainable economy.
  • Zero Waste Scotland has six key delivery priorities for 2014-15. These are: Supporting a circular economy; Harnessing the value of recycling; Transforming attitudes to food waste; Reducing the impacts of litter; Implementing resource efficiency savings; Accelerating the development of low carbon heat.
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