The contract comes six years after the authority put on hold an RDF outlet procurement process. That procurement was delayed until this year in order to allow its MBT facility to become fully operational and for the authority to review its existing waste contracts and waste strategy in the light of “budgetary pressures”.
The successful RDF take-off contractor is a partnership formed by Hookwood, Sussex-based waste business Britaniacrest and London RDF (refuse derived fuel) firm Seneca, which is part of the Wembley-based Carey Group. The Partnership won a tender for the RDF export work.
Separately to the RDF contract, Britaniacrest has plans to develop its own energy from waste plant in Horsham although its planning application was withdrawn in July 2017 for modifications.
The plant was originally specified at 300,000 tonnes per annum but this was cut to 243,000 tpa as the EPC contractor said the waste different to that specified. It is operated by Biffa under a 25 year PFI contract with the county council and waste from the MBT plant has been landfilled at Biffa’s sites in the county and also in other counties in southern England. Under a further contract, awarded in 2004, Viridor handles recyclables for West Sussex CC.
Digest from the MBT – mechanical biological treatment plant – is used as a compost like output for Biffa’s Brookhurst Wood landfill.
According to West Sussex, £7.7m is being spent on “expanding the MBT plant to allow for more waste to be processed on-site, increasing the efficiency of the facility in deriving fuel from waste and diverting it from landfill”.
West Sussex, under its former pioneering chief waste officer, Phil Russell, had originally planned to develop an energy facility close to the landfill and use the heat generated to heat luxury homes to be built nearby. But this project failed to get off the ground. Now after years of difficulty and high extra costs for landfilling the waste because of the lack of the EfW facility plus not getting any of the budgeted income from the heat take-off, the council has signed the RDF contract with the Britaniacrest Seneca Partnership.
EEW Energy from Waste
The Partnership has secured a long term deal to supply the RDF to a major European buyer, EEW Energy from Waste, which is Chinese-owned. Waste from West Sussex is likely to go to Delfzijl in Holland, Helmstedt – one of the largest EfW plants in Germany – and another at Stapelfeld near Hamburg, Germany.
West Sussex handles about 400,000 tonnes of waste a year. Precise figures for waste arisings have not been issued by the county but its waste prevention website puts the figure at “156,000 tonnes thrown away each year”.
Explaining its RDF strategy the authority says that the aim is to increase diversion from landfill for this output. “The county council is looking to divert at least 50% of this output from landfill and plans to increase this to 100% as quickly as is reasonably possible.”
John Carey Jr, director of the Britaniacrest Seneca Partnership, said: “We are delighted to secure this contract. As a partnership this represents two relatively small family businesses working successfully together. We were both independent businesses looking at the tender and we decided to join forces which has strengthened us.”
Mr Carey said that in the first year the contract will involve 60,000 tonnes of RDF rising to 150,000 tonnes in year two.
RDF offtake will commence early in the new year with the material exported to Germany and the Netherlands
Director of energy, waste and environment, West Sussex CC
Steve Read, who took up the post of director of energy, waste and environment at West Sussex county council earlier this year, confirmed the contract award. He said: “RDF offtake will commence early in the new year with the material exported to Germany and the Netherlands via ports in Kent and Essex. The contract has an extension option for up to five further years.
“WSBSP will initially take half of the RDF produced at the Warnham MBT near Horsham with the remaining half taken off once a new RDF handling facility is commissioned. The plant was originally designed for RDF produced at the MBT to be used at an adjacent EfW facility but WSCC decided not to proceed with this part of the project some time ago.”
And, Mr Read continued: “There is currently insufficient space within the MBT facility to bale and store all RDF produced for taking offsite and additional infrastructure is required. We do have land adjacent earmarked for RDF handling facility.
“The MBT plant (operated on our behalf by Biffa) is working well with an integral AD process recovering energy on site from the organic fraction. As reflected in the current debate nationally it would be brave to predict the market opportunities for RDF with a five year horizon. But we’ll be keeping our longer-term offtake options under constant review, looking at potential developments in the South East as well as export options.”