Municipal composting

Recovering Multidimensional Value from Compost Oversize

Bringing together the CVORR and INSPIRE projects, this mini-project looks at improving RRfW for compost.Current practices for compost production encounter issues relating to contamination via compost oversize. This oversize may include biogenic fractions too large to compost and other materials that cannot be composted, which could range from gravel and small rocks to plastic and metal fragments from discarded garden objects. The result is large disposals of materials, and hence there are lost opportunities for value recovery and also a continuation of unsustainable resource management practices.

This project will therefore consider a suite of supply-chain management scenarios that may be implemented for recovering resources from compost oversize. We will analyse the policies and regulations necessary for such supply chain reconfigurations, as well as those which currently create perverse incentives for socially and environmentally detrimental disposal activities. These detrimental impacts include (among others) the pollution issues that arise from illegal incineration, lost tax revenues and subsequent clean-up costs from illegal landfills, and the complex ethical questions that arise when waste is exported (legally or otherwise) to countries (e.g. China) in which workers are subject to poor employment conditions and have minimal rights.

The CVORR (Complex Value Optimisation for Resource Recovery) approach will be used to examine changes in complex values across the system – specifically changes in value across social, environmental, economic and technical domains – thus endeavouring to provide a transparent evaluation of the benefits and trade-offs of each scenario. This information will support policy makers when implementing strategies that make it easy for stakeholders to foster sustainable practices and minimise losses in value, rather than incentivising the continuation of illegal disposal behaviours that are currently commonplace.

The results of this mini-project are presented in an open access final report; this report is also available on our publications page, which additionally provides a brief summary of the report.

Anne Velenturf (RRfW), Eleni Iacovidou (CVORR), Industry partner, Kok Siew Ng (MeteoRR, CVORR),  Joel Millward Hopkins (CVORR), Danielle Sinnett (INSPIRE).