The tonnage of refuse derived fuel (RDF) exported from England and Wales to Europe for incineration grew by more than 750,000 tonnes in 2014, data published by the Environment Agency has shown.
Final data up to the end of December 2014, published by the Agency last week, shows that the overall tonnage of RDF sent overseas throughout the year topped 2,373,611 tonnes.
The figures confirm the rapid growth in demand for RDF from operators in the UK from European energy from waste facilities, with 2014 continuing the trend of increasing exports to facilities overseas.
RDF is a fuel produced by shredding and dehydrating solid waste, which companies wishing to export are required to notify the Environment Agency of its final destination, to ensure it does not end up in landfill.
The 2014 figures show that RDF exports grew by more than 780,000 tonnnes in 2014 compared to 2013, when 1.58 million tonnes of refuse derived fuel were exported (see letsrecycle.com story). This is significantly higher than the 892,900 tonnes recorded as exported during 2012 and just 272,000 tonnes during 2011.
Twelve European countries were the recipients of RDF from the England and Wales. These included: Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, France, Belgium, Finland, Poland and Sweden.
The Netherlands continues to take up the bulk of the demand for material, with a total of 1.2 million tonnes exported to its facilities in 2014, although demand from Germany and Sweden has continued to grow and the two nations now make up a greater proportion of the export market from the UK.
2014 also saw SITA UK knocked off the top spot as the largest exporter of RDF to the continent, having been replaced by Biffa. The two firms sent a combined total of more than 632,000 tonnes overseas throughout the year, Biffa having topped the chart with a total of 334,510 tonnes, followed by SITA on 298,223 tonnes.
Other firms exporting large amounts of RDF to Europe include Hertfordshire-based Andusia Recovered Fuels, FCC, Seneca and New Earth Solutions.
While export of RDF has continued to rise over consecutive years, some believe that the export of waste derived fuels to energy from waste (EfW) facilities should only be seen as a medium term solution, and will give the UK time to increase its EfW capacity.