CCm Technologies – Written evidence (NSD0009)


Background to CCm Technologies

CCm Technologies is an award-winning clean tech company which optimises resource use through Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) solutions, including the production of net zero carbon fertilisers (see Sustainable Markets Initiative’s RE:TV short video here for further information) which allow a wide range of businesses to generate commercial value from captured carbon and other agricultural and industrial waste streams while also delivering improved sustainability. It is commercially viable without any Government subsidies.


Oxford-based CCm Technologies was established in 2011. It is a member of HRH The Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative and a signatory of its recently launched Terra Carta, and also received the Solar Impulse Foundation Efficient Solutions Label. CCm has also been selected as one of the businesses to take part in the Government’s Small Business Research Initiative.



  1. What is the potential scale of the contribution that nature-based solutions can make to decarbonisation in the UK?


One of the most significant challenges facing the agricultural sector is decarbonisation. Carbon soil sequestration technologies like lower carbon fertilisers not only present soil and biodiversity benefits but offer a huge opportunity for the UK's rural economy to be a world leading contributor to decarbonisation. It’s important that nature-based solutions are not considered only as a way of providing offsets, but that new technologies that offer a means of sequestering carbon in routine farming practice are taken.


50 standard CCm units could result in emissions avoidance equivalent to removing around 375,000 cars from the road each year. By switching to biogenically derived alternatives for agricultural resourcing the UK would save over half a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2050.


There is significant global potential for this technology to contribute to emissions reduction, CCm’s technology permanently sequestrates CO2 in the soil to the effect of one tonne per tonne of fertiliser. Five million tonnes of fertiliser are used globally per annum.


Current agricultural processes produce around 10% of all UK greenhouse gases. Without intervention, agriculture will continue to be a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. WRI research shows that when factoring in land-use change, agricultural emissions could represent 70% or more of the world's carbon budget by 2050.


By targeting the massive carbon footprints associated with conventional fertiliser production, which it can cut by more than 90%, CCm’s technology can contribute meaningfully to achieving net zero. Carbon savings result from: direct capture and utilisation of waste CO2, avoidance of primary carbon use, and carbon storage in soil.


CCm Technologies provides the rural economy with carbon capture and utilisation solutions that help lower the carbon footprint of fertiliser and stabilise emissions. CCm’s technologies can be deployed immediately and via the delivery mechanisms that currently supply UK agriculture. Lower emissions fertiliser draws on end-of-use materials as inputs (many of which provide circular economy solutions to sectors looking to address their own waste by-product challenges) and involve a low-energy manufacturing process. The sale price of CCm’s materials is directly competitive with existing products and is financially viable without reliance on government subsidies.


The technology uses captured carbon dioxide from industrial power generation to stabilise a wide variety of materials (such as ammonia and phosphates) from agricultural and industrial waste streams and uses these to create new fertiliser products with significantly lower than usual carbon and resource footprints.


The fertiliser demonstrates similar yield and protein quality outcomes to traditional fertiliser, but with around 10% less nitrogen and phosphate being applied. The fertiliser also delivers additional environmental benefits including enhanced water and nutrient retention contributing to lower run-off and reduced water pollution, as well as increased carbon retention in soil.


  1. What major scientific uncertainties persist in understanding the effects of nature-based solutions and affect their inclusion in carbon accounting, and how can these uncertainties be addressed?


CCm has more than seven years of independent data relating to both its Agronomic and Environmental Benefits. These results combined with wider verified international trials give a high degree of certainty around both yield and quantifiable carbon savings.


CCm Technologies’ body of research has been drawn together by Cranfield University to develop an extensive test programme at the Luton Hoo Estate in Bedfordshire. This programme is exploring the long-term carbon sequestration of carbon capture fertiliser and will be expanded to a further 20 farms in 2022.


Cranfield’s work in 2021 has been able to confirm that carbon is returned to the soil in significant quantities by the CCm materials and furthermore that the crop yield can be maintained despite the addition of significantly lower levels of nutrient. This ensures that significant volumes, between 20 and 50%, of conventional fertiliser can be permanently displaced by CCm’s materials, delivering permanent beneficial solutions to the agricultural sector.


  1. Are there good examples of nature-based solutions already being undertaken in the UK or elsewhere, and what can we learn from them?


In December 2020 PepsiCo and CCm announced that CCm’s technology will be used to manufacture low-carbon, nutrient-rich fertilisers using potato peel waste from the crisp production supply chain, which will go directly back into the fields growing potatoes for Walkers Crisps. By increasing the recovered resource input, use of the fertilisers is expected to reduce Walkers’ carbon emissions from growing potatoes by 70%.


By drawing on end-of-use materials as inputs and involving a low-energy manufacturing process, the sale price of CCm’s materials is directly competitive with existing products and is financially viable without reliance on government subsidies. This is a brilliant example of private finance being leveraged to support decarbonisation, helping the UK reach its net zero target with little cost to the Government. To accelerate this support from private financing further, the Government should set targets that encourage private board members to pursue lower emissions alternatives to production where possible. To encourage competitive carbon emissions reduction strategies across the economy, the Government should explore carbon pricing and support efforts to introduce carbon border adjustments.


  1. How can farmers (including tenant farmers) and land managers be supported in their deployment of nature-based solutions by policy and legislative frameworks?


All opportunities to encourage land managers to adopt nature-based emissions reduction practices should be taken. To achieve this, it’s important that the legislative framework directs land managers to cost-competitive emissions reduction products where possible. This can be done by channelling farmers to nature-based alternatives under ELMs.


CCm is currently running field trials at the Luton Hoo estate, supported by Cranfield University, to determine the efficacy of the green fertilisers produced by CCm to meet winter wheat and winter barley nutrient demand and also to measure the material’s contribution towards soil carbon sequestration.


Provisional results for 2021 derived from the trials operated by Cranfield with assistance from Rothamstead indicate that up to 30 tons of highly recalcitrant organic materials can be returned to the soil per hectare (Ha) whilst maintaining crop yield. The efficiency of nutrient delivery has also been significantly improved by this process so that the yield maintenance has been achieved using between 20 and 50% nitrogen.


  1. How should implementation of nature-based solutions be integrated with other government policies for landscapes and seascapes, for example, agricultural, forestry, and land-use planning policies?


The Government should use the opportunity it has coming up in developing post-CAP environmental support to reward land managers and farmers for adopting practices that return organic matter back to the soil, prevent nutrient run-off into the water system and reduce emissions via nature-based solutions.


As hosts of COP26, it is crucial that the UK Government prioritises nature-based solutions to reach its own targets and to encourage others to utilise similar methods.


The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMs) provides a brilliant opportunity to integrate nature-based solutions in the agricultural sector. CCm’s technologies are completely aligned to the objectives of ELMs and believe nature-based CCU has a critical role to play in supporting the agricultural industry in reaching net zero and improving the environment.


CCm’s fertilisers allow farmers to make the transition to lower emissions practices and reduced environmental impact without risking their yields and without taking on additional costs and needing to change their delivery mechanisms.


These products are commercial-ready and scalable and therefore available to be deployed at the pilot stage of the ELM scheme and beyond to support the delivery of key public goods such as clean air, clean water and protection from environmental hazards.


CCm’s fertilisers use 10% less nitrogen and phosphate than conventional ones, which is important as excessive nitrogen and phosphate are damaging to plant and soil health. Additionally, CCm’s fertilisers have been shown to increase microorganisms in the soil by up to 20% and enhance flora and fauna activity.


The ELM scheme should make clear to farmers that improving soil health, increasing organic matter in the soil, improving biodiversity in the soil, preventing nutrient run-off into the water system and emissions reduction via fertiliser-based carbon capture and return to soil are all outcomes the Government wants to see. Defra should be explicit in defining these outcomes as metrics for SFI qualification.


  1. How should nature-based solutions be planned and monitored at the national level?


Defra should work with the Environment Agency to ensure that regulation is not preventing the adoption of new nature-based, circular economy solutions.


At the moment circular economy solutions that return carbon to the soil are hampered by the requirement on farmers to submit individual applications to turn waste products into useful fertiliser and then apply them to crops.


This is preventing scaling and mass adoption of CCm fertiliser because of the multiple application rounds to the EA for permission to use waste derived fertiliser (despite the lower emissions and nutrient benefits).


It’s critical that as new innovation comes to market that can contribute significantly to nature-based outcomes and emissions reduction, regulatory obstacles to scale are addressed.


8 September 2021