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Defra Publishes New Definition for RDF

Defra has published an official definition of refuse-derived fuel (RDF). The new definition, which has taken a year to develop, will be trialled for six months from early next year.

The new definition follows Defra’s call for evidence last year on the UK’s RDF market, after which the department said it would develop a written definition of RDF and standards for its treatment.

The definition was developed alongside the Environment Agency after working closely with operators who have an interest in the RDF sector. Defra has said that the aim of the definition is to help the Environment Agency regulate the RDF sector so that any waste described as RDF is legitimate and has a definite end-user. They hope to address cases of waste, which is described as RDF, being abandoned or causing environmental problems as a result of being stockpiled for long periods.

The full definition is:

Refuse derived fuel (RDF) consists of residual waste that is subject to a contract with an end-user for use as a fuel in an energy from waste facility. The contract must include the end-user’s technical specifications relating as a minimum to the calorific value, the moisture content, the form and quantity of the RDF.

The RDF sector will be asked to help evaluate the success of the trial after the six months. They will be asked whether it has been meeting its objectives, how easy the definition has been to work with and whether the definition has resulted in any additional costs and burdens to legitimate operators and regulators.

David Adams, Managing Director of Clarity Environmental, said:

“The new definition does not affect legitimate businesses such as ours, but we welcome any measures that tackle illegal or unscrupulous activity in the sector. This type of activity is the very small minority but goes far in undermining the reputation of the RDF sector and puts our environment at risk.”

In a letter to industry stakeholders on 20 November, Defra said a treatment standard would not be introduced along with the definition because it would run counter to the department’s work to cut red tape. Respondents to Defra’s call for evidence also showed little support for a treatment standard for RDF, with concerns raised that this would duplicate the separate collection requirements that came into force in January 2015, and that it would be too complex to capture all the processes by which waste could be treated to produce RDF in a single standard.

Clarity provides waste to fuel solutions you can trust, facilitating the diversion of waste from landfill to energy from waste plants (EfW). Whether you are a waste producer or an EfW facility, contact us on 0845 129 7177 to find out more about our expanding network, and see how we can help.

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