9 August 2019 by Steve Eminton

RDF port delay concerns remain over no deal Brexit

A full set of consents are in place to ensure exports of refused derived fuel (RDF) keep moving in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has restated this week.

The Department’s assurance comes as the RDF Industry Group, run by consultancy Eunomia, is set to write to the Environment Agency expressing a number of concerns about the potential impact of Brexit port delays on the sector.

No deal Brexit could see Europe-bound trucks, potentially containing waste for export, queueing at ports  (Picture: Shutterstock)

The UK exports more than two million tonnes of RDF each year, largely to the Continent with the Netherlands as the largest market. Concerns about Brexit are now centring on fears that there will be disruption at ports which could mean queues of goods vehicles causing RDF exports to be delayed with the need for some material to be landfilled in the UK.

A spokesperson for Defra told letsrecycle.com: “We have agreements in place to roll over consents to export RDF from the UK to every EU country in the event of a no-deal Brexit. These agreements will enable continuity of all notified waste shipments between the UK and the EU and minimise any impact on the industry.”

Contingency plans

The Department has met with the waste sector and related groups over contingency plans for a no deal Brexit. And, the Environment Agency has been surveying the waste management and RDF sector over their plans and the availability and suitability of landfill sites to accept waste at short notice that would otherwise have been exported.

It is not thought that there are any plans at present to relax or change landfill permit controls.

However, there are concerns among waste management companies that the Environment Agency might need to speed up approval of construction plans for landfill cells, should there be a disruption in the flow of RDF material to the Continent.

“Defra has been very good at giving the industry certainty on the legal procedures being in place.”

Bethany Ledingham, RDF Export Group

The RDF Industry Group is to write to the Environment Agency to express a number of concerns and emphasise the importance for the flow of RDF export material to be maintained.

Bethany Ledingham, from the group’s secretariat, said that concerns “from members are picking up again. Even though there has been some additional time to plan, as compared to the end of March, at the end of October we are entering the winter period and the industry demand for RDF starts to increase.”

Ms Ledingham added: “Defra has been very good at giving the industry certainty on the legal procedures being in place, but for our members, concerns remain about the logistical barriers which might be encountered at the ports.”

RDF Conference

This year’s RDF conference, organised by Letsrecycle.com and the RDF Industry Group will be held on 28 November 2019. More details here.


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