Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Composting catering waste

composting catering wasteComposting catering waste

What you must do

The Animal By-Products Regulations allow the composting of catering waste to take place without the need for an authorisation if certain conditions are met. You must:

  • produce the compost on the private grounds belonging to the establishment where the catering waste is produced
  • apply the compost on the grounds of premises where it is produced
  • not keep ruminant animals or pigs on the land. If you keep birds such as chickens, then the composting area must be designed to prevent the birds gaining access.

These measures aim to encourage home composting but they also apply to a number of other locations. If you have private grounds then you are exempt from the regulations. If you want to compost catering waste within your private grounds you must register an exemption from waste management licensing with your environmental regulator.

“Catering waste” means all waste food including used cooking oils originating in restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens, including central kitchens and household kitchens.

Waste management licences

If your business or organisation is sited on communal grounds you are not exempt from the requirements of the regulations. If you want to compost catering waste from facilities on your site you must follow the guidance below.

Approval to operate

Before you compost or treat any catering waste, you must obtain authorisation from:

  • your local Animal Health Divisional Office (AHDO) in Scotland
  • the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARDNI) in Northern Ireland.

Animal and Plant Health Agency

Animal and Plant Health: Application and inspection form to treat animal by-products and catering waste (Scotland)

DAERA: Animal by-products - Guidance and application for composting (Northern Ireland)

Once your site is authorised, you must monitor and review your activities on an ongoing basis. Your AHDO or DARD will advise you when your authorisation will require renewal.

You must also hold a waste management licence or register an exemption, and meet your requirements under the duty of care.

Duty of care - your waste responsibilities

Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP)

Once you have completed the application form, you must also supply an HACCP plan to your AHDO (Scotland) or your Divisional Veterinary Office (Northern Ireland).

Site layout

You must separate catering waste and the resulting compost from all other wastes throughout the composting process. You must not mix catering waste that contains meat with catering waste that does not contain meat.

You must not compost catering waste on any site that also houses livestock, eg pigs. This prevents livestock transmitting diseases caused by pathogens within compost.

You must treat any garden waste, eg grass or leaves which has had any contact with catering waste, as catering waste itself.

You must wash the wheels of vehicles that come into contact with compost. This will help prevent the spread of any diseases.

Vehicle cleaning (including wheel washing)

Composting facilities

There are two kinds of composting facilities that you can use to compost catering waste:

  • in-vesselfacilities, ie sealed composting units
  • housed windrow facilities, ie composting heaps within buildings, which are protected from the weather, birds and pests.

Composting standards

You must meet one of the following standards for composting catering waste.

In-vessel facilities must heat compost to a minimum temperature of 60°C, for at least two days.

Housed windrow facilities (windrow composting is only permitted when housed) must heat compost to a minimum temperature of 60°C for at least eight days. During this period, the compost must be turned at least three times in every two day period.

If the catering waste contains meat, both in-vessel and housed windrow facilities must then complete a second composting stage, using the same temperatures and composting durations as above. You can complete this second composting stage outdoors.

If the catering waste does not contain meat (meat-excluded catering waste) you must store it for 18 days after the first stage instead of completing a secondary composting stage.

You must monitor and provide evidence that you are meeting these standards as a condition of your authorisation to operate.

Useful links

Animal by-products and food waste

The Community Composting Network

Association for Organics Recycling

Scottish Government: Animal by-products

NIEA: Composting guidance

NIEA: Spent mushroom compost – waste management options

SEPA: Composting and anaerobic digestion

SEPA has produced guidance that explains when waste derived composts are fully recovered, and do not require waste regulatory control. This guidance replaces earlier guidance from 2004

 SEPA: Regulation of Outputs from Composting Processes

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