Composters speak out as WRAP helps standards move closer

Composters have given support for a basic national standard but said that different specifications and guidance are needed for different end users.

These are the initial views of compost producers and end users who attended a number of seminars organised by WRAP – the Waste and Resources Action Programme. WRAP sees standards as being crucial to developing the market for composts.

The workshops looked at how the barriers to increasing composting could be overcome as well as what is needed to improve the marketing of composts in the UK. Large-scale users of compost discussed the need and impact of a compost industry standard and looked at what work needs to be carried out to change buying habits and stimulate demand. The workshops looked at different market sectors including agriculture, horticulture, growing media, landscaping and land remediation.

Anne Riding, special projects manager, said: “As part of our standards programme, WRAP’s aim is to develop and promote industry standards for composted products which meet end-users’ needs, create confidence in their use and improve the market opportunities. Establishing an open and constructive dialogue with end users was a priority and these events have provided WRAP with valuable feedback which will inform future work on compost standards and help us move towards this goal.


Product quality and performance were among the issues highlighted and while there was overall support for a baseline national standard, end users in all sectors stressed the need to develop specifications or guidelines for particular end uses. Producers said that they need to be made more aware of the requirements of end-users and a performance “track record” for certified compost, including case studies and reference sites.

The growing sector said that effective plant pathogen destruction, product stability and heavy metal content are important and the technical requirements of the certification process will need to address these performance requirements.

Ian Burton, chairman of the Joint Council for Landscape Industries, welcomed WRAP’s initiative on composting and said: “Over the past two years, considerable progress has been made towards developing a national standards scheme, and these dialogue sessions gave end-users a chance to assess the practical and useful set of proposals being put forward. They also provided the opportunity for all those interested in and committed to alternative compost supplies to discuss the barriers and opportunities, and express their views on how this work can be progressed.”

WRAP is now drawing up an action plan to address the issues raised at the workshops and a compost producer seminar is planned for April 22 when the findings of the workshops will be announced.

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