Frequently asked Questions
1. When does material become an animal by-product?
Animal by-products (ABP) are entire bodies or parts of animals or products of animal origin not intended for human consumption. A legal definition is given in Regulation (EC) No. 1069/2009.
2. Is there a disease risk?
Yes. Epidemiological studies carried out on BSE and animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease and Classical Swine Fever have all identified ABP as the source. This is the scientific basis for the ABP Legislation. It is believed that the outbreaks in the UK in recent years of both Foot and Mouth and Classical Swine Fever were caused by contaminated catering waste. This is the main reason why we need to ensure that all ABP are properly disposed of.
3. How should animal by-products be disposed of?
The methods of disposal depend on the categorization of the by-product. This is set out in Regulation (EC) No. 1069/2009. Category 1 material is regarded as high risk. It includes catering waste from means of transport operating internationally.
- Category 1 material may only be disposed by incineration or by processing in a plant approved to handle category 1 ABP. Category 1 catering waste may be disposed of in an approved landfill.
- Category 2 material is medium risk. It may be disposed of in a wider variety of ways than category 1 ABP. Subject to a number of restrictions, some types of category 2 materials may be composted or used in biogas production.
- Category 3 is lower risk. It can be disposed of by various means including processing in a plant approved to handle category 3 ABP, used in the manufacture of petfood, in the oleochemical industry or in the manufacture of technical products such as fertilizer. Some category 3 materials can be composted or used in biogas production.
4. What does the legislation do?
The EU Animal By-Products Regulations (Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 & Commission Regulation (EC) No. 142/2011) lay down the rules concerning ABP. EU Regulations are directly applicable in all Member States including Ireland. However, Member States still need to introduce national legislation to complement and enforce the EU rules. In this case, the enforcing legislation for Ireland is the European Communities (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies and Animal By-Products) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 252 of 2008), as amended, and the Diseases of Animals Act 1966 (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies) (Fertilizers and Soil Improvers) Order 2008, (S. I. No. 253 of 2008).
5. Do I need an approval?
Yes, it is a legislative requirement that all premises involved in the treatment of ABP must be approved by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF). Such approval is additional to any other requirements governing the operation of a Plant. It is the responsibility of an owner, operator, or person in charge of a Plant to ensure that a Plant operates in full compliance with all current legislation.
6. How do I go about getting an approval?
Application forms and conditions are available from the Animal By-Products Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Pavilion B, Grattan Business Centre, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Tel: 057-8694343, 057-8694345 or alternatively most application forms and conditions are available on the DAFF website. No production should commence until approval has been received.
7. How long will it take?
It depends on the quality and clarity of the documents and information supplied with the application and the type of treatment planned. The approval process may involve a number of meetings with DAFF officials, site inspections, laboratory analysis of samples etc.
8. Who is responsible for the enforcement of the Animal By-Products Regulations?
Implementation of ABP Regulations is handled by a number of bodies: the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food is the central competent authority, with responsibility for most ABP processing plants and the largest meat plants; the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority deals with marine ABP; the Local Authority Veterinary Service is responsible for ABP issues in smaller local abattoirs; and the Health Service Executive deals with retail outlets handling ABP, such as butchers’ shops and supermarkets.
Composting and Biogas
9. Can I compost animal by-products under this legislation?
Under the ABP Regulations, certain lower-risk (so-called category 3) ABP may be treated in an approved composting or biogas plant. Milk and manure can also be treated in a compost or biogas plant.
10. What treatment standards must be met during the composting or biogas process?
ABP need to be treated to the EU standard, which is treatment at 70°C for 1 hour, with a maximum particle size of 12mm. catering waste (with/without manure and/or digestive tract content) may be treated to the national standard: 60°C for 48 hours (twice), with a maximum particle size of 400 mm. The Regulations provide for alternative processing standards to be used, subject to appropriate validation and a full risk assessment of those standards.
11. Can I still compost at home?
Yes, provided you do not keep pigs or ruminants on the premises. If you are only composting your own kitchen scraps on your compost heap, you are not affected by the rules. If you keep poultry, you may compost your kitchen scraps at home, but you should do so in an enclosed container. The resulting compost must be used on the site where it is produced.
12. What if I keep pigs or ruminants, can I still compost?
No. Contaminated and unprocessed catering waste is thought to have been the cause of outbreaks of Foot and Mouth and Classical Swine Fever in the UK in recent years. It is important that livestock susceptible to diseases that can be transmitted through infected meat are kept away from catering waste. If you keep ruminants or pigs, even as pets, you must not compost on the premises. This includes composting your own kitchen scraps. Your kitchen waste can be composted at an approved site elsewhere.
13. I'm not a farmer, I just have a pet pig. Can I compost?
No. Pet animals are just as susceptible to diseases as farmed animals, and must not be allowed access to catering waste. If you keep a pet pig or any pet ruminant you must not compost on the premises. This does not of course prevent you from sending your kitchen waste for composting to an approved site elsewhere. If you keep poultry and you wish to compost at home, you should do so in an enclosed container.
14. What about schools that want to compost, do they need to be approved?
Where catering waste is composted on the premises where it originates, and the resulting material is applied only to land at those premises, the premises does not need to be approved (with the same restrictions with respect to pigs, ruminants and poultry as outlined above). So a school could run a composting project without needing an approval provided that (i) only catering waste generated on the premises is used; and (ii) the end product is used only on land at those premises, and not elsewhere. This is a general exemption for composting done on the premises where the catering waste originates, and could therefore also apply to places such as hospitals or prisons as well as schools.
15. What controls are there on the use of the compost?
Compost derived from ABP may be landspread, provided animals are excluded from the land for 3 weeks after spreading (60 days exclusion in the case of pigs). Hay or silage or other ensiled crops may not be made from a crop grown on land on which this compost has been spread during the previous 21 days. Compost derived from Category 3 meat and bone meal cannot be spread on pastureland.
16. Can I use windrows for composting?
Green waste (i.e. garden and park waste) can be composted in open windrows. ABP may not be composted in an open windrow, except as a secondary composting stage where initial composting has been conducted in a closed system.
'Closed' composting vessels may include housed windrows, subject to approval by DAFF. Other systems such as fabric covered, aerated systems can also be approved as closed systems, provided birds and vermin cannot gain access, and the covering material is durable (i.e. as well as preventing access by birds and vermin, it is resistant to the elements, and will not rot, tear or otherwise leave composting material exposed).
17. Do I need a Waste Management Licence/ Permit?
You will need to seek advice from your local authority on this issue, except in the case of home composting.
18. If I compost green waste only at my composting site, do I need an ABP licence?
19. If I compost catering waste using a mixed waste/Mechanical biological treatment facility do I need an ABP licence?
20. If I compost sewage sludge only at my composting site, do I need an ABP licence?
No. Statutory Instruments Nos. 252 and 253 of 2008 only cover ABP and not sewage sludge. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government regulates sewage sludge. The relevant Regulations are:
- S.I. No. 148/1998: Waste Management (Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture) Regulations, 1998, and
- S.I. No. 267/2001: Waste Management (Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture) (Amendment) Regulations, 2001
Sewage sludge is regulated in the interest of protecting the environment, especially soils, from contamination with heavy metals.
21. What types of food waste can be fed to farm animals?
Milk and dairy products can be fed to animals, subject to the restrictions set out in EU Regulation No. 142/2011. Further details on this are set out in Trader Notice 04/2008 which is available on the animal by-products section of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food website.
The Swill Order (S.I. No. 597/2001) bans the feeding to farm animals of 'any broken or waste foodstuff (including table, catering or kitchen refuse, scraps or waste)'. However, the order makes an exception allowing the feeding of cereal grains, edible material of plant or vegetable origin, bread and dough (including biscuits) and chocolate that has not been in contact with an animal or ABP.
22. Can livestock be fed waste foods not containing meat and fish which comes from premises where meat and fish are handled?
23. Can waste petfood be disposed of to landfill?
Raw petfood may not be disposed of to landfill. Processed petfoods can go to landfill.
Catering Waste and Former Foodstuffs
24. What exactly is catering waste?
Catering waste is defined in the EU Regulation as 'all waste food including used cooking oil originating in restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens, including central kitchens and household kitchens.'
25. What is the classification of cooking oil?
Used cooking oil originating in restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens, including central kitchens and household kitchens is defined as catering waste.
26. What is the difference between catering waste and former foodstuffs containing products of animals' origin?
Catering waste originates from kitchens such as hotels, restaurants and canteens. Former foodstuffs originate from food factories and retail outlets.
27. What are the permitted disposal routes for catering waste?
- Catering waste from means of transport operating internationally is regarded as Category 1 ABP. It may be disposed of by incineration or by processing in a plant approved to handle Category 1 ABP. Category 1 catering waste may also be disposed of by deep burial in a landfill approved under Directive 1993/31/EC. It may not be composted.
- Category 3 catering waste may be disposed of by various methods including transforming in a biogas plant or in a composting plant. It should not be sent to a Category 3 rendering plant. This is to protect the animal feed chain as some of the products of Category 3 rendering plants are used in the manufacture of animal feed.
28. Can you spread Category 3 catering waste on land with farmed animals present?
29. Can you inject catering waste into land?
30. Can meat products from a retail premises be disposed of direct to landfill?
No, from 1st July 2010 meat products from retail premises can no longer be disposed of direct to landfill. Meat products from a retail premises are classified as former foodstuffs. Former foodstuffs must go to a composting, anaerobic digestion, rendering or petfood plant approved by DAFF to take former foodstuffs.
31. Can meat products from a commercial kitchen be disposed of direct to landfill?
From 1st July 2010 meats products from a commercial kitchens can no longer be disposed of direct to landfill. Meat products from kitchens are classified as catering waste. Catering waste must either go to a composting, anaerobic digestion (biogas) or rendering plant approved by DAFF or must be subjected to some other authorised treatment process, in compliance with the Department of the Environment’s Food Waste Regulations, before going to landfill. Further information is available on the website www.foodwaste.ie.
32. Can food waste of animal origin from food factories be disposed of direct to landfill?
No, food waste of animal origin from food factories cannot be disposed of direct to landfill. Products of animal origin from food factories are classified as former foodstuffs. Former foodstuffs must go to a composting, anaerobic digestion (biogas), rendering or petfood plant approved by DAFF to take former foodstuffs.
33. Can food waste of animal origin from a mobile chip van be disposed of direct to landfill?
Food waste of animal origin from a mobile chip van is classified as catering waste. Catering waste must either go to a composting, anaerobic digestion (biogas) or rendering plant approved by DAFF or must be subjected to some other authorised treatment process, in compliance with the Department of the Environment’s Food Waste Regulations, before going to landfill.
34. Can fish from a retail fish stall be disposed of direct to landfill?
No, fish waste from a retail fish stall cannot be disposed of direct to landfill. This material must be disposed of to an approved rendering plant.
35. Can dairy products such as eggs, yogurts, cheese and milk from a retail outlet be disposed of direct to landfill?
No, dairy products such as eggs, yogurts, cheese and milk from a retail outlet cannot be disposed of direct to landfill. These products coming from a retail outlet are classified as former foodstuffs. Former foodstuffs must be disposed of to a composting, anaerobic digestion (biogas), rendering or petfood plant approved by DAFF to take former foodstuffs.
36. Can dairy products such as eggs, yogurts, cheese and milk from a commercial kitchen be disposed of direct to landfill?
No, dairy products such as eggs, yogurts, cheese and milk cannot be disposed of direct to landfill. These products coming from a kitchen are classified as catering waste. Catering waste must either go to a composting, anaerobic digestion (biogas) or rendering plant approved by DAFF or must be subjected to some other authorised treatment process in compliance with the Department of the Environment's Food Waste Regulations before going to landfill. Further information is available on the website www.foodwaste.ie.
37. Do products such as bread, biscuits, cakes, pasta, chocolate and sweets that contain ingredients that are of animal origin such as eggs, rennet, milk, melted fats or lard and which are no longer intended for human consumption fall under the definition of "former foodstuffs of animal origin"? Can such products be disposed of to landfill and/or fed to animals?
Such products are classified as former foodstuffs but not of animal origin. They can go to landfill in accordance with environmental legislation. They can also be fed to farmed animals (See 21 above).
38. Can Category 3 material be placed in frozen storage while awaiting disposal – this is often a more cost effective method for some small butchers? This may be necessary where a business only produces small quantities of category 3 waste.
This is acceptable provided that it takes place on the retail premises and does not breach approval under the hygiene regulations. It must be clearly separated from food.
39. Can a butcher’s shop with an off-site slaughterhouse return the category 3 material to the slaughterhouse for disposal? If so does he need to become a registered haulier?
This is only allowed provided both the shop and the slaughterhouse are under the ownership and control of one food business operator (FBO). There may only be return from a single local retail shop to the slaughterhouse. If the FBO is transporting ABP he should be registered as an ABP haulier.
40. Can several butcher shops in the one area use an off site communal storage area - if so do all butchers need to be licensed as hauliers?
Yes, but the storage area would have to be approved by DAFF as an intermediate plant. Anyone transporting ABP would need to be on the DAFF ABP transport register.
41. Can animal by products originating in remote areas be disposed of as waste by burning or burial?
The EU Regulation defines remote areas as “areas where the animal population is so small, and where facilities are so far away, that the arrangements necessary for collection and transport would be unacceptably onerous compared to local disposal.” DAFF has designated all inhabited offshore islands, some bog lands and mountains as remote areas. A burial licence should be obtained from the local District Veterinary Office (DVO) to allow the on-farm burial of fallen animals in these areas.
42. What is 'bellygrass' and what restrictions apply to its use?
'Belly grass' is the lay term used for stomach contents removed from cattle and sheep after slaughter. It is classified as Category 2 material, the same as manure. It can be landspread provided DAFF does not deem the product to pose a risk to animal or human health. It can be spread on any type of land provided that a 21-day grazing restriction is upheld for all animals (60 days in the case of pigs). The slaughter plant should maintain a register of the details of where this product is sent, quantities etc. The farmer who owns the land on which it is spread should also keep records of where, when and quantities spread.
43. What restrictions apply to grease trap waste?
Grease trap waste originating in restaurants, hotels etc is not regarded as ABP. It should be disposed of in accordance with environmental legislation. Disposal options include composting, biogas and sending to a Category 1 rendering plant. It should not be sent to a Category 3 rendering plant. This is to protect the animal feed chain as some of the products of Category 3 rendering plants are used in the manufacture of animal feed.
Grease trap waste from Category 1 or Category 2 processing plants, from premises where specified risk material is removed or from slaughterhouses is regarded as ABP. This material should be sent for Category 1 rendering.