A lot has happened in the last 25 years; we have celebrated the beginning of a new millennia, the UK has committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to zero and England made it to the semifinals in a World Cup! Amid all of this, the REA Organics Forum has been going from strength to strength and that is due to you, our members.
Many of you have shared this journey with us and have stood by our side as we have evolved. From our humble beginnings as a small industry looking solely at composting garden waste to an industry that now processes in excess of ten million tonnes of inputs through a range of technologies.
We are now at the heart of the Circular Economy. Helping our members to provide sustainable alternatives to conventional fertilisers and soil conditioners in the agricultural arena as well as replacing finite peat reserves used for growing media production. Not forgetting the important contribution to renewable energy!
I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this milestone than at our show stopping 25th Annual Conference last week. The Conference which was filled with engaging debates and interactions showcased the perfect balance of how far we’ve come in the last 25 years and how far we will go in the next. In terms of how far we’ve come, founder of the Composting Association, Jane Gilbert, stated that the industry has successfully recycled an astonishing 93 million tonnes of feedstocks producing 19MT of compost. This has in turn sequestered 0.9MT of soil organic carbon worth £159M in today’s carbon price.
“If someone were to tell me in 1995 that we’d be where we are today; a thriving multifaceted industry, three years away from the roll out of mandatory food waste and garden waste collections and seeing the developments in biodegradable waste management that we are, I’m not sure I would have believed them.”
For me however, my personal highlight was seeing what was in store for the industry over the next 25 years. If someone were to tell me in 1995 that we’d be where we are today; a thriving multifaceted industry, three years away from the roll out of mandatory food waste and garden waste collections and seeing the developments in biodegradable waste management that we are, I’m not sure I would have believed them. With the Environment Bill and the Agriculture Bill ahead of us, I can only imagine where we will be in 2045. For Jane Gilbert and Jonathon Scurlock from the NFU, their vision is of our industry being carbon managers and nutrient recyclers contributing to net zero through compost and digestates.
All this will be thanks to yourselves and the work you’ve done to build the industry up to what it is today. Whilst acknowledging all of your hard work, I must give special thanks to our award winners of the night! Congratulations to Anna Becvar for winning the Best Support to the Organics Sector Award, Compost Manager by Freeland Technical for winning the Innovation in Organics Technology Award and Trelawney Dampney from Eco Sustainable Solutions for winning the Lifetime Achievement Award! (Further information on our winners below).
From our award winners to the rising stars in the industry, witnessing first-hand the amount of talent at the Conference filled me with confidence. Confidence that our industry will become more profitable, forward looking and proportionately regulated over the coming years.
I am certain that our inner resilience, experience and adaptability that has been borne out over the last 25 years, will continue to grow and aid future investment in our wonderful industry for the next 25 years and beyond, helping shape the circular economy within our sphere of influence.
Thank you for supporting us at this critical time in your industry’s growth now and over the past 25 years – here’s to the next!
Winners of the REA Organics Sector Awards:
- Best Support to the Organics Sector – awarded for an individual or company that have provided continued support to the organics recycling sector through products or services and assisted in developing the professional growth of the sector – Anna Becvar, Earthcare Technical. Anna runs her own consultancy and work include providing assistance to legal teams, planning, Environmental permitting, developing soils and extensive array of waste material recovery, recycling and product development activities.
- Innovation in Organics Technology Award – celebrating the best new innovations in science and engineering to further technical advances in the science of biological treatment – Compost Manager by Freeland Technical, created by George Longmuir and Eric Crouch. Compost Manager takes the guesswork out of aerobic composting and helps industrial composters producer high quality compost.
- Lifetime achievement Award – award for an individual who has over their career, demonstrated innovative and visionary leadership within the organics recycling sector through their commitment to drive progress through improving standards through working with the regulators, Government and their peers over an extended period of time. – Trelawney Dampney, Eco Sustainable Solutions. Lawney was instrumental in the early days of the Association and was a director for many years and chaired it from 2004-2006. He did a great deal to raise funds in the early days and ensure the longevity of the association. Eco Sustainable Solutions annualy process 250,000 tonnes of material and has an annual turnover of £11M. They have a composting facility, AD plant, solar farm and biomass facility.
Jeremy Jacobs, Technical Director at the REA source