The Renewable Energy Association's Biofertiliser Certfication Scheme (BCS), which is part of the overall Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd (REAL) Scheme, has been created for the purpose of certifying biogas plants against the PAS110 in Scotland and the PAS110 and Quality Protocol (QP) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for the production and use of Quality Outputs from the anaerobic digestion of source-separated biodegradable waste.
The PAS110 for digestate, derived from the anaerobic digestion of source-segregated biodegradable materials creates an industry specification against which producers can verify that the digested materials are of consistent quality and fit for purpose. If a biogas plant meets the standard, its digestate will be regarded as having been fully recovered and to have ceased to be waste, and it can be despatched to the customer under the symbol “Bio-fertiliser”.
The foundation for the current work on the PAS110 was the Renewable Energy Association's Draft Scottish Digestate Standard of May 2007, sponsored by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). The original idea came from Colin Risbridger of C Ris Energy on the Island of Westray who realised that to satisfy quality criteria for rearing high grade beef on grassland fertilised by digestate a new standard was required. The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and SEPA in conjunction with the Renewable Energy Association (REA), the Association for Organics Recycling (AFOR) and other organisations, has sponsored the subsequent development of the BSI PAS110:2010.
The Quality Protocol (QP) gives official status to the PAS 110 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It does not apply to Scotland. It clarifies the point at which waste management controls are no longer required and provides users with confidence that the quality digestate they purchase conforms to an approved standard. It defines those feedstocks which are allowable and describes acceptable good practice for the use of quality digestate on land.
The QP was sponsored by the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) Programme, and developed by WRAP and the Environment Agency in consultation with industry and other regulatory stakeholders.
The QP requires that a Certification Scheme is in place to ensure that a biogas plant can demonstrate that it complies with the PAS110 and QP. This provides assurance to purchases/users of Quality Digestate (Bio-fertiliser) and customers of their food produce (e.g. supermarkets and food processors) that the material is safe and of good quality.
The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has a different regulatory regime to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and does not accept the Quality Protocol. SEPA has now determined that the PAS110 is acceptable in Scotland provided that certain additional conditions are met and have issued a Regulatory Statement.
The Environment Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and SEPA require that a Certification Scheme is in place to ensure that a biogas plant can demonstrate that it complies with the PAS110 (Scotland) and PAS110 & QP (England, Wales and Northern Ireland). This provides assurance to purchases/users of Quality Digestate (Bio-fertiliser) and customers of their food produce (e.g. supermarkets and food processors) that the material is safe and of good quality.
The broad approach to be followed by the Certification Scheme is as follows:
The Scheme Administrator for the BCS is Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd. (REAL). This is a subsidiary company of the REA. Currently, REAL already runs an accreditation scheme designed to ensure that companies selling renewable energy systems to domestic consumers provide a high standard of service in line with a Code of Conduct approved by the Office of Fair Trading. In developing this accreditation scheme REAL has established a number of governance procedures, which can be replicated in implementing the BCS. These include impartial applications procedures, establishment of an independent oversight panel, maintenance of a members' register, and complaints procedures. In acting as BCS Scheme Administrator, REAL will:
REAL will normally require biogas plants to use the Data Tool, web-based system developed by WRAP for recording full details of Digestate application to farmland.
REAL has adopted the Mark “Biofertiliser” , which will be licensed for use by biogas plants achieving certification on an annual renewal basis.
The Scheme Administrator has appointed an Oversight Panel to provide the governance for the Biofertiliser Certification Scheme. Its remit includes inter alia:
At present the Oversight Panel consists of the following members, chaired by Roger Unwin and attended by Virginia Graham, CEO of REAL and David Collins, Administrator of the BCS.
As the scheme gets under way, we intend to invite:
Certification Bodies (CB's) are the organisations competent to evaluate plants wishing to become accredited against the standards, Scheme requirements and other relevant norms. Certification Bodies will be required to gain specific accreditation from UKAS for the PAS 110 and QP. This means that the Certificate of Conformity that they issue will itself be accredited by UKAS.
When the CBs are satisfied that plants adequately meet the requirements they will confirm this to the Scheme Administrator who will then issue a Certificate.
The CBs will be required to resolve complaints they may receive. In the event they are unable to do this they will refer the complaints to the Scheme Administrator.
REAL has appointed the following CBs to conduct inspections under the scheme, and has written formal contracts between the CBs and REAL. Both were involved in the pilot schemes during the development of the Scottish Standard and the PAS110.
Details of these organisations can be found elsewhere on this website
The Scheme Administrator will make available training and guidance materials to assist prospective participants to prepare themselves for certification.