By Will Date
The amount of refuse-derived fuel exported for incineration from the UK saw a sharp increase in 2013 compared to the previous year with over 1.5 million tonnes sent to Europe data compiled by the Environment Agency shows.
The provisional data seen by letsrecycle.com, shows that a total of 1,586,946 tonnes of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) was exported throughout last year (see letsrecycle.com story), significantly higher than the 892,900 tonnes recorded as exported during 2012 and just 272,000 tonnes during 2011.
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 data, which the Agency says may be subject to change, also shows that many more UK firms are now opting to exploit the demand for RDF from overseas, with 43 firms sending material to the continent in 2013, compared to 25 during the previous year.
Eight European countries were the recipients of RDF from the UK. These included: Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
The bulk of the RDF from the UK was sent to the Netherlands, which imported in excess of 1,175,000 tonnes of the material throughout the year. Germany overtook Denmark as the second largest market for RDF from the UK, receiving 181,000 tonnes of material compared to the 119,941 tonnes sent to the Scandinavian nation.
SITA UK continues to be the largest individual exporter of material, sending over 284,000 tonnes of material overseas in 2013 compared to 218,000 tonnes of RDF in 2012. The bulk of this went to the Netherlands, which received around 240,000 tonnes of material from SITA UK.
Biffa Waste Services and New Earth Solutions were the two firms sending the next largest amount of RDF overseas, exporting 191,000 and 181,000 tonnes of material to Europe respectively.
Other firms exporting large amounts of RDF to Europe include Shanks Waste Management, Seneca Environmental Solutions, Andusia Recovered Fuels and FCC Recycling.
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.