The European Compost Network (ECN), a membership organization with 66 members from 27 European countries, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2022. ECN represents more than 4,500 experts and plant operators with more than 45 million metric tons of biological waste (biowaste) treatment capacity. In July, the organization released the ECN Data Report 2022 “Compost and Digestate for a Circular Bioeconomy,” based on data collected via a survey of the 27 European Union (EU) countries, Norway (NO), Switzerland (CH) and the United Kingdom (UK). Data relate to the years 2019-2020. “An estimated 71 million metric tons per annum (tpa) of separately collected biowaste were treated through composting and anaerobic digestion (60 million tpa in the EU27 and 11 million in CH, NO and UK),” notes a summary of the report’s findings. “These estimates included both municipal and commercial/industrial biowastes. Composting accounted for 42 million tpa (59%), while anaerobic digestion (AD) accounted for 29 million tpa (41%).”
Other data highlights include:
- An estimated 5,800 biowaste treatment facilities are in the EU27, CH, NO & UK, with 3,800 (66%) being composting and 2,000 (34%) being anaerobic digestion (AD) plants.
- On average, each composting facility treated 8,000 tpa of biowaste, while each AD facility treated 13,000 tpa.
- Although the integration of AD and composting treatments is now being recognized as an environmentally beneficial means of processing food waste, the survey only found that 5% of composting facilities treated anaerobic digestate at co-located facilities.
- An estimated 21.1 million tpa of compost was produced, with 17.6 million tpa of this being in the EU27. Agriculture was found to be the dominant market segment for both compost and anaerobic digestate, although sale prices were far below their theoretical potential, with digestate commanding either a zero or negative price (Euro (€) 0 to minus 10/metric ton) and compost having a weighted average price of only €10.1/metric ton (fresh mass) across all market sectors.
- Every metric ton of compost manufactured in Europe contained €41 worth of NPK (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) fertilizers, and €4 worth of carbon sequestered in agricultural soils.
The full ECN Data Report 2022 is available at this link.