It seems our fascination with DIY food continues to gain momentum with the ‘allotment gardener’ winning Chelsea Flower Show, Matthew Biggs hosting Grow You Own sessions at Gardeners’ World Live this weekend, and the Incredible Edible movement taking parts of the country by storm.  With all this home grown goodness the worms in compost heaps across the country must be having a field-day as kitchens empty their decaying goodness for recycling as nature intended.

This is all wonderful on a micro-scale and we should feel proud that our weekly bins are now fortnightly and often even then half empty.

But what of the organic waste we can’t put onto our gardens and that which is produced on an industrial scale by businesses and public sector organisations?  Here a whole new growth sector has emerged to manage and dispose of this debris which is hauled away in its hundreds of tonnes each year.  A visit to an organic recycling business recently showed me how far we have come but also have far we still have to go. 

The business, a traditional family-run farm, has seized the opportunity to diversify and offers composting facilities for biodegradable waste.  Using its current facilities the business can process up to 60,000 tonnes of solid agricultural, horticultural and vegetable waste, paper, cardboard and green waste each year – fantastic.  But there is a much larger market still to be serviced, so the business has secured planning permission for a multi-million pound development on its land, to include anaerobic digestion and a biomass boiler, offering far greater recycling capabilities, which our environment desperately needs. 

But there-in lies the rub, the family cannot fund the development without external investment (unsurprisingly), yet because of the market’s unpredictable nature, demand forecasts cannot be easily quantified and, therefore, investment is not forthcoming.  So, the land and the plans lie waiting, while the waste they could be recycling is going who knows where? 

I believe the reports I read of banks investing in agriculture in East Anglia and know from work I’ve done with Clydesdale, for example, that this is the case.  But it seems the large investments, in long-term projects, are still stalling and somehow we need to unblock the chain to enable entrepreneurial, forward thinking, ethical businesses, like Organic Recycling Ltd, to flourish for everyone’s benefit.

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