Digestate Characteristics and Valorisation Options

"To develop a ‘data pack’ on the properties, characteristics, and content of digestate that will provide the context for the development of new uses of outputs from Anaerobic Digesters"

Project Overview

The project was designed to investigate alternative uses/markets for digestates and technologies to develop new products from digestates.

This was motivated by several regulatory and market drivers. For instance, plans to increase household food waste recovery in England and Wales are expected to result in increased digestate production. While the majority of digestate in the UK is currently applied directly to agricultural land, limits on the land available and restrictions on application timings and quantities may compel operators to explore other avenues for the use of their digestate.  

The project outputs include two reports, (1) the Digestate Data Pack and (2) the Digestate Valorisation Report.

Digestate Data Pack

The Digestate Data Pack provides an analysis of key characteristics (e.g., macronutrient content, dry matter content and physical contaminants) of UK digestates produced from different feedstock types. Data was sourced from the REAL database and external sources. The Data Pack also includes the results of specialist laboratory analysis focussing on microplastic analysis and dewaterability of digestates derived from food waste processes.

Valorisation Report

The Valorisation Report provides a comprehensive assessment of digestate ‘valorisation’ options. The report primarily focuses on identifying and evaluating viable valorisation options that have been demonstrated under ‘real world’ conditions (i.e., at a Technology Readiness Level of 7 or higher).

The report also presents a roadmap to market that overlays digestate valorisation options onto the UK regulatory (e.g., End of Waste rules and regulatory controls) and financial landscape to identify the most commercially promising options. The roadmap to market also suggests ‘waypoints’ (i.e., areas of focus for regulators, policy makers and the anaerobic digestion industry). The report also contains digestate dewaterability results.

The project outputs provide a valuable resource for the AD industry, regulators, and other sector stakeholders by:

  • Providing comprehensive statistical reporting and analysis of key digestate characteristics to inform decision-making on important industry developments such as the revision of the AD Quality Protocol and relevant consultations.
  • Identifying commercial digestate valorisation options demonstrated under ‘real world’ conditions to inform regulatory decision making and provide the AD industry with the evidence necessary to enhance and diversify the use of their digestate.
  • Informing operators’ decisions about alternative models for using digestate.