Provisional Environment Agency data for the 2020 calendar year has shown a drop in exports of refuse derived fuel (RDF) from England of nearly 37%.
This is thought to be because of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on commercial waste services, as well as taxes being introduced in the Netherlands and Sweden.
Published last month, the data shows a total of 1,740,657 tonnes of RDF and solid recovered fuel (SRF) was exported from England in 2020. This represents a fall of 36.89% from 2019, when 2,758,254 tonnes were exported.
The fall in 2020 continues the steady decline in RDF exports from England, having fallen from more than three million tonnes in 2018.
The three most popular destinations for RDF and SRF exports from England in 2020 were the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, the Agency’s data shows. The countries received 601,668, 486,293 and 199,294 tonnes respectively.
Less material was exported to each country than had been in 2019, according to environmental consultancy Footprint Services, which carries out its own monthly analyses of the RDF and SRF markets. The volumes to the Netherlands fell by 48%, while for Sweden and Germany they fell by 17% and 50% respectively.
Markets such as Spain, Belgium and Latvia became a lot more attractive to the industry, receiving 1,209%, 199% and 16% more waste fuel in 2020 than 2019 respectively, Footprint’s figures show.
The three companies which exported the most RDF and SRF from England in 2020 were Geminor, Suez and N&P Alternative Fuels, in that order. Geminor exported 248,315 tonnes, Suez 207,969 and N&P 174,238.
The volumes of material Geminor exported still fell by 22% from 2019, with Suez and N&P suffering falls in volume of 31% and 38% respectively.
The CEO of Norwegian-owned waste fuel business Geminor said on 24 February the Covid-19 pandemic had not affected his company’s RDF activities “as badly as once feared”.
Kjetil Vikingstad said Geminor achieved “all-time high volumes” in Europe in 2020, increasing the treatment and handling of waste fractions for recycling and recovery from 1,429,000 tonnes in 2019 to 1,733,000 tonnes.
“In April last year I had very little faith in a record result for 2020, and from then on it was all about making the best of the situation,” he said. “A more stable market towards the end of the year assisted in making this record possible.”
Geminor says its turnover increased by 29% in 2020, from €120 million to €155 million.
Mr Vikingstad said: “Export volumes of waste from the UK and Finland fell in 2020, but apart from this we had growth in all of the European markets we operate in. The Norwegian market grew by 10% from 2019 and we doubled our volumes in Denmark last year.”