Eunomia assesses European residual waste demand

Waste consultancy Eunomia has predicted that Northern Europe will have around 14 million tonnes of surplus residual waste treatment capacity by 2030 – if all of the energy recovery facilities currently in development come online.

The prediction comes in the tenth edition of the firm’s ‘Residual Waste Infrastructure Review’ published yesterday (24 May) to coincide with Eunomia’s fifteenth anniversary.

Eunomia Residual Waste v8a
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Previous editions of the report have assessed the residual waste capacity needs for the UK’s waste sector, but the latest edition looks at the demand for residual waste treatment capacity and the supply of waste in 11 Northern European nations.

Countries include major importers of RDF from the UK including Germany, Sweden and Netherlands as well as waste exporting nations such as France, Norway, Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic alongside Belgium and Denmark.

Adam Baddeley, lead author of the report, said: “The emergence of an international market for RDF will continue to influence the way in which countries manage their residual waste. Proper planning of residual treatment facilities now demands that a pan-European perspective is taken.

“This can allow each country to make choices that are economically sound, by avoiding sinking capital into new facilities that might not be fully utilised, or which may be more expensive. Equally importantly, it makes environmental sense to focus efforts on waste prevention, preparation for reuse, and increasing recycling, especially in those nations with significant scope for further improvement.”

Capacity

According to the report, five countries already have more treatment capacity than waste. At 2.7 million tonnes, Germany has the greatest capacity in excess of its own annual needs. Poland (19.8mt) and France (18.9mt) currently have the greatest surplus of residual waste over treatment capacity.

And, Eunomia claims that the UK has only 6.4mt of residual waste more than the treatment capacity that is operational, or soon to be completed.

The consultancy has claimed that the UK is continuing to move towards a situation where the supply of treatment capacity for residual waste exceeds the demand for the service, based on an assessment of the facilities that are operational, under construction, or that have reached financial close.

Eunomia Residual Waste v8b
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And, Eunomia has carried over its prediction from the ninth edition of the report, published in January, that the UK is on course to achieve over-capacity in the energy from waste market by 2020/21 – despite the loss of capacity caused by the end of the Air Products Tees Valley gasification project (see letsrecycle.com). Previously Eunomia had predicted that over-capacity may occur by 2017/18.

Assumptions

Commenting on the report in Bristol yesterday, Eunomia’s managing director Mike Brown, said: “A cynic would say the predicted overcapacity data is always out into the distance, but actually that’s about assumptions changing. There’s a huge amount of capacity in the UK, we said in 2011 overcapacity could be with us in five years’ time, we are now saying three to four years’ time. The direction is the same and we are getting closer.

“Landfill is on its knees, and disappearing faster than anyone wanted or indeed is sensible.

“We do not think that we need to believe there’s a lot more waste out there than we are predicting, unless RDF exports are going to stop or decline or recycling rates are going to be much lower than expected.”

Mr Brown added that “work needs to be done” to refine assumptions, and Eunomia is working to include more European capacity. “This picture will change as we move into other parts of Europe,” he said.

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