European EfW plants seek ‘new markets’ as UK exports fall

There is a “growing demand” for new markets for refuse derived fuel (RDF) in Europe as exports from the UK continue to fall. 

Geminor is the largest exporter of RDF from England

Kjetil Vikingstad, Geminor’s chief executive, explained in a statement today that the UK has been the largest market for RDF in Europe “for a long time”, particularly for EfW facilities in the Nordics and Western Europe.

However, he stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has seen waste volumes fall in the UK, while incineration capacity “increases significantly”.

Mr Vikingstad explained that smaller volumes available in the UK will have a “clear impact” on the European RDF and SRF markets over time, which is leading to countries to exploring alternative markets.

He explained: “Countries such as Poland and Italy are in the process of developing an export market, but in the longer-term other European countries will be required to step in to ensure access to waste feedstock for the many off-takers in the Nordics and elsewhere.

“At the moment there are few restrictions on landfill in several countries in Europe. Hence, waste feedstock that is well suited for material recycling or energy recovery is currently being landfilled. A common European ban on landfilling would both increase the recycling rate on the continent and stabilise the market.”


While RDF exports have been falling from England, the market remains confident of a bounceback

Data published by the Environment Agency throughout the year has shown a continued declined in RDF exports from England.

The latest statistics were published last month and were for first eight months of 2021, and showed that exports have fallen a further 15.3% when compared to 2020.

In the first six months of the 2021, they were around 25% down.

Despite this, many RDF exporters have been confident that the RDF market will bounce back strongly as the UK recovers from the pandemic.

The data from the Environment Agency is only provisional, and subject to change once confirmed at the end of the year.


Mr Vikingstad added that issues with drivers in the UK and Europe is “hopefully a short-term issue, but highlights the need for predictability for the industry.

“Having access to varied, flexible, and cost-effective transport solutions will become increasingly important in the years to come. The current transport challenges just increase the need for more storage and buffer capacity, which is an issue for many off-takers today,” he explained.

Norwegian-owned Geminor has a turnover of more than £130 million. It describes itself as an international recycling company focusing on RDF, SRF, recycled waste wood, hazardous waste for energy recovery. It also focuses on paper & cardboard, plastic, and other types of waste for material recycling in the European market.

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