Biomass - Using Anaerobic Digestion

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Regulations for Biogas Applications

There are several key legislative documents that apply to Biogas plants, both on an EU and UK scale.

  • EU Landfill Directive
  • EU Animal By Products Regulation 1774/2002
  • Scottish and DEFRA Animal By Products Regulations
  • Draft Biowaste Document EU

EU Landfill Directive 1999/31/EC

Adopted 26 April 1999

The EU Landfill Directive requires Member States to develop strategies for reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, with the objective of reducing local water and air pollution, and emissions of global greenhouse gases caused by the degradation of organic wastes in landfill sites. Furthermore, it establishes strict targets for reducing the quantity of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) disposed of to landfill. BMW is municipal waste of organic nature i.e. that is capable of undergoing aerobic or anaerobic decomposition.

For all countries criteria are set using 1995 waste data figures. For the UK the following targets are set:

Year % BMW to landfill
2010 75% of 1995 levels
2013 50% of 1995 levels
2020 35% of 1995 levels

To achieve this will require vast changes in the collection, separation and treatment of biodegradable waste. In Scotland in 2002 only 3% of Municipal Solid Waste arisings (MSW) were composted with 91% of all MSW going directly to landfill. (National Waste Plan 2003- SEPA).

One further aspect of this document is that the cost of landfilling is to include all the costs involved with construction, operation and decommissioning (over a 30 year period), which will greatly increase the cost of landfilling as a waste management option in the coming years.

Thus the actions as set forth in the Landfill Directive should act as a major incentive in the utilization of AD for the treatment of BMW.

EU Animal By Products Regulation 1774/2002

Adopted 1 May 2003

This is a regulation covering the treatment of Animal and Catering Waste. National Animal By product Strategies are to be adopted in each Member state in accordance with this document. Three categories of waste are defined:

Category 1 material

High risk- animal by-products presenting a TSE risk or an unknown risk or a risk related to treatment with illegal substances or to environmental contaminants.

Category 2 material

Medium risk- animal by-products presenting risk related to animal diseases or residues of veterinary drugs.

Category 3 material

Low risk- animal by-products derived from healthy animals.

Only Category 3 material is permitted for direct use in Biogas and AD systems to prevent disease and pathogen transmission. Category 2 material is permitted if it has first been pressure rendered to 133C/3bar/20 minutes.

Regulations Applicable to Biogas & AD

In accordance with this document there are certain requirements for AD systems.

Premises Requirements

  • If the Biogas plant is located on a premises where farm animals are kept, it is to be located at an adequate distance to the area where animals are kept and there must be total physical separation between the plant and the animals and their feed and bedding, with fencing where necessary.

  • The biogas plant must be equipped with:

    (a) A pasteurisation/hygienisation unit, which cannot be by-passed, with:
    1. installations for monitoring temperature against time
    3. recording devices to record continuously the results of those measurements
    5. an adequate safety system to prevent insufficient heating

    (b) Adequate facilities for the cleaning and disinfecting vehicles and containers upon leaving the facility

Operators of Biogas AD plants shall be obliged to implement and maintain a permanent procedure developed in accordance with the principles of the system of hazard analysis and critical control points(HACCP). Under this system they should

(a) Identify and control the critical control points in the plants.

(b) Establish and implement methods for monitoring and checking such critical control points.
(c) In the case of processing plants, take representative samples to check compliance:

  1. Of each processed batch with the standards for the products established by this Regulation.
  2. with the maximum permitted levels of physicochemical residues laid down in Community legislation.

(d) Record the results of the checks and tests referred to in points (b) and (c) and keep them for a period of at least two years for presentation to the competent authorities
(e) Introduce a system ensuring the traceability of each batch dispatched.

Hygiene Requirements

  • The plant must be designed to prevent cross contamination of raw feedstock and process by products.
  • Containers, receptacles and vehicles used for transporting untreated material must be cleaned in a designated area. This area must be situated or designed to prevent risk of contamination of treated products.
  • Preventive measures against birds, rodents, insects or other vermin must be taken.
  • Cleaning and plant inspection procedures must be documented and established for all parts of the premises.

Processing standards

  • Pasteurisation of material is required, which must adhere to the following standards:
    • Minimum 12mm particle size
    • Minimum of 1 hour @ 70 degrees C - can occur before or after digestion process.
  • The treated digestate material should adhere to defined microbiological limits for pathogenic bacteria (e.g. Salmonellae and Enterobacteriaceae), which shall be determined by a laboratory on site or by use of an external laboratory.

Scottish and DEFRA Animal By Products Regulations

Enacted Oct 2003 National Regulations in compliance with EU Animal By Products Regulation.
These follow the same guidelines as set forth in the EU document, with a few additional definitions and requirements.

Premises Requirements

In relation to Biogas and AD plants, there is further definition on the cleaning and reception areas within a plant:

  • There shall be
    1. a reception area
    2. a vehicles and containers cleaning area
    3. a clean area in which treated compost or digestion residues are stored.
  • The clean area shall be adequately separated from the reception area and the area in which vehicle cleaning area so as to prevent contamination of the treated material. This will be that liquid cannot seep into the clean area from the other areas.
  • The reception area shall have an enclosed and lockable place or container to receive and store the untreated animal by-products.
  • Containers, receptacles and vehicles used for transporting untreated animal by-products shall be cleaned in the dedicated area before they leave the premises and before any treated material is loaded. In the case of vehicles transporting only untreated catering waste and not subsequently transporting treated material, only the wheels of the vehicle need be cleaned.

Process Requirements

  • Pasteurisation of material is defined as either
    • 1 hour at 70C minimum particle size 6cm
    • 5 hours at 57C minimum particle size of 5cm
  • In addition to the pasteurisation of material a barrier of average 18 days storage of digestate is required during or after process.

EU Draft Biowaste Directive

Due Sept 2004

The EU Commission has given a commitment that by the end of the year 2004 a Directive on Biowaste, including catering waste, will be prepared with the aim of establishing rules on safe use, recovery, recycling and disposal of this waste and of controlling potential contamination.

It has now been decided to make the development of this proposal a revision of the Sewage Sludge Directive 86/278/EEC and for a Directive on the biological treatment of biodegradable waste an integral part of the multi-stakeholder process accompanying the development of a fully fledged Soil Thematic Strategy expected to be adopted in September 2004.

The value of recapture of nutrients from organic waste, and its recycling to agricultural land, had now been highlighted as a key area in need of proper legislation within the EU.

If the directive goes ahead as proposed in the draft document, there will be a requirement on member states to collect Biowaste separately and minimise disposal to landfill through an integrated waste management scheme. Investment in and creation of an integrated waste management market shall be promoted and required within a legislative document under this directive.