Reduce your business waste to save money

Treating and composting biodegradable waste


Your business may be able to treat waste biologically to produce a nutrient-rich material or biogas. If you produce biodegradable waste you can send it for recycling into compost.

You can treat biodegradable waste on an industrial scale by either composting or anaerobic digestion. Composting is more suitable for fibrous materials. Anaerobic digestion is more suitable for wet wastes and sludges that degrade easily.

If you treat food waste containing meat and fish, or other animal by-products, you must comply with strict rules.

Composting biodegradable waste

If your business produces biodegradable waste such as food, garden waste, paper and cardboard, you can send these for recycling into compost.

You must ensure that any composting business you give your waste to has the permits it needs to handle food and other biodegradable waste and to produce compost.

The cleaner the waste you send for composting, the higher the quality of compost and the greater the benefit for the environment. High-quality compost is used for gardening and farming. Low-quality compost is used for top soil to cover landfill sites.

Composting facilities on or close to farms provide farms with a less expensive fertiliser and cheaper power. Some farms and food firms are licensed to operate composting facilities and can earn extra income from this business - see producing and selling compost.

Anaerobic digestion of waste

Anaerobic digestion can be used to treat food and similar wet organic wastes. It takes place in a closed container, excluding oxygen. It is clean and relatively odour-free. It produces a nutrient-rich solid material called digestate and biogas containing methane and CO2.

The biogas may need further processing before it can be burnt to produce electricity. Electricity that you produce can be used to power the plant or exported to the grid. Alternatively, it can be used as a transport fuel.

Spreading waste on land

You may also be able to reuse your waste, such as paper or sewage sludge, by spreading it on land. However, before you do this, you must check what restrictions apply and whether you need a waste management licence or registered exemption, or permission from the Divisional Veterinary Office.