Waste and recycling

Supporting detail:

Anaerobic digestion and energy recovery from waste

We support efficient energy recovery from residual waste, which can:

  • benefit the environment
  • reduce carbon emissions
  • provide economic opportunities

Efficient energy recovery means getting the most out of energy from waste, not putting the most waste into energy recovery. This might require a combination of energy from waste technologies. Incineration is one of these and others include pyrolysis, gasification and plasma arc.

We’re committed to increasing the proportion of energy we obtain from renewable sources to at least 15% by 2020. Energy from waste can contribute to meeting those targets.

Guidance on energy from waste

Energy from waste – a guide to the debate is designed to:

  • improve understanding of the issues and underlying evidence
  • help and promote debate on the role of energy from waste

We’ve also published updated waste technology briefs. These give detailed information about the range of energy from waste technologies available. Briefs are available on:

Anaerobic digestion

Where food waste cannot be prevented, anaerobic digestion (AD) is the best environmental option currently available. AD:

  • diverts organic waste from landfill
  • generates renewable energy
  • creates a digestate that can replace artificial fertilizers

Increasing the use of anaerobic digestion

We’re working to increase energy from waste produced by AD. We set out our plans for this in the Anaerobic digestion strategy and action plan (June 2011), which we developed in collaboration with more than 50 organisations.

Important actions that we’re taking include:

  • setting up a £10 million loan fund to support new AD capacity (£3 million of which is for farmers developing small scale AD on their farms)
  • creating an innovation fund to bring down costs of AD
  • projects to develop markets for digestate (a by-product of AD)

The second annual report (August 2013) showed continued progress and steady growth in the number of AD plants in the UK.

Find more information on the AD portal.

More about generating energy from waste.