RDF exports quadruple in five months

7 March 2012

By Caelia Quinault

The amount of refuse-derived fuel exported to continental Europe for incineration has quadrupled in the last five months, according to data released by the Environment Agency.

Between January 1 2011 and February 24 2012, 290,000 tonnes of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) was exported. This compares to the 67,000 tonnes exported between September 2010 and September 2011 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Baled RDF from SCA Recycling, which is permitted to export the fuel to Sweden
Baled RDF from SCA Recycling, which is permitted to export the fuel to Sweden

At the same time, the amount permitted for export almost doubled, from 1,143,000 tonnes in September 2011  to 1,921,000 tonnes in February 2012.

RDF is a fuel produced by shredding and dehydrating solid waste and if companies wish to export it, they need to notify the Environment Agency of the final destination, to ensure it does not end up in landfill.

Exporting

However, the practice has attracted criticism from some in the waste sector who fear that it could put investment in domestic energy-from-waste capacity at risk (see letsrecycle.com story) and could mean the UK is exporting its waste problem to the continent (see letsrecycle.com story).

In total, 21 companies were permitted to export material over the last thirteen months to eight European countries: Denmark; Estonia; Germany; Latvia; the Netherlands; Portugal; Spain; and, Sweden. The Agency said it could not name the exact facilities to which the material is sent.

The company to export to most to date, at 102,879 tonnes, is SITA UK, which is also permitted to export the largest amount (529,500 tonnes).The second highest quantity of RDF was exported by organics recycling and renewable energy specialist New Earth Solutions, which sent a total of 53,215 tonnes for energy recovery in the Netherlands.

Newly permitted

Seven new companies have become permitted to export RDF since September 2011. These are: Associated Waste Management of Leeds; F D Todd & Sons Ltd of Thirsk; North East waste management company JBT Waste Services Ltd; London-based McGrath Bros (Waste Control) Ltd; One51 ES Recycling UK (South) Ltd (Country Waste Management); paper recycling business SCA Recycling (which is in the process of being acquired by DS Smith); and Wembley-based waste and recycling firm Seneca Environmental Solutions Ltd (part of the Carey Group).

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency indicated that many companies saw the export of RDF as a short-term solution and that it expected the amount of RDF permitted for export would go down as more domestic treatment capacity comes online.

Table - RDF exports permitted by the Environment Agency between January 1 2011 and February 24 2012. Source: Environment Agency

Country of destinationNotifier

Quantity received

Quantity notified
Denmark DONG Energy Waste UK Ltd 31,325 160,000
Denmark SITA UK 2,560 36,000
Denmark Stobart Biomass Products Limited 35,000
Denmark Transwaste Recycling & Aggregates Ltd 4,372 24,000
Estonia Hinkcroft Transport Ltd 1,666 15,000
Germany Shanks Waste Management Ltd 5,044 13,003
Germany Thanet Waste Services Ltd 402 12,000
Germany Thanet Waste Services Ltd 9,521 12,000
Latvia N&P Alternative Fuels Ltd 8,943 50,000
Latvia One51 ES Recyclying UK (South) Ltd 20,000
Latvia Shanks Waste Management Ltd 50,000
Latvia SITA UK Ltd 25,000
Netherlands Associated Waste Management Ltd 50,000
Netherlands Biffa Waste Services Limited 9,509 100,000
Netherlands Biffa Waste Services Limited 6,684 60,000
Netherlands F D Todd & Sons Ltd 377 12,475
Netherlands Greenway Waste Recycling Ltd 35,883 234,000
Netherlands JBT Waste Services Ltd 463 14,000
Netherlands McGrath Bros (Waste Control) Ltd 2,910 20,000
Netherlands New Earth Solutions Ltd 11,616 15,000
Netherlands New Earth Solutions Ltd 29,613 50,000
Netherlands New Earth Solutions Ltd 11,986 25,000
Netherlands Nordic Recycling Ltd 2,009 2,000
Netherlands Seneca Environmental Solutions Ltd 277 160,000
Netherlands Shanks Waste Management Ltd 9,414 100,000
Netherlands Shanks Waste Management Ltd 50,000
Netherlands SITA UK Ltd 17,174 50,000
Netherlands SITA UK Ltd 75,595 336,000
Netherlands Waste Recycling Limited 534 12,500
Portugal Camreg Limited 1,083 1,500
Portugal Transwaste Recycling & Aggregates Ltd 24,000
Spain N&P Alternative Fuels Ltd 20,000
Sweden N&P Alternative Fuels Ltd 10,000
Sweden SCA Recycling Limited 2,420 10,000
Sweden SITA UK 7,550 82,500
Sweden Stobart Biomass Products Limited 1,237 30,000