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Environment Agency Report on RDF Export Market

The Environment Agency (EA) has analysed the rapid expansion since 2010 of the export market for refuse-derived fuel (RDF) in a new report ‘Reasons for trends in English refuse-derived fuel exports since 2010’. RDF exports began in June 2010 following the decision of the EA to allow export as part of the UK Plan for Shipments of Waste. While it remains illegal to export waste for disposal, businesses are permitted to export  ‘material that is produced from waste, has undergone some sort of treatment process, and is intended for use as a fuel’ – otherwise known as RDF. The RDF export market has grown rapidly since it was allowed, and this EA report analyses the reasons for this, based on their own quantitative research and industry opinion. With up to 85% of total UK RDF coming from England, the report has been undertaken with reference to the English market.

Having examined the regulatory context of the market the EA found it to be driven partly by a greater energy from waste (EfW) capacity overseas than currently exists in England. The increase in volume of available RDF has in turn been caused by material being diverted from the landfill because of costly landfill tax and landfill diversion targets, as well as by the lower cost of some continental European EfW facilities. The EA conclude that a combination of these drivers have meant expansion of the export of RDF from zero in June 2010 to just over 215,000 tonnes in January 2015. The majority of these exports were to The Netherlands, with opportunities opening up in Germany and Sweden during 2013. This demand means it’s economic to produce RDF and export it to those countries with capacity, provided the routes cost less than disposal in English landfills. The report says that landfill tax has therefore been a key driver in diverting waste from landfill and consequently in driving the RDF export market.

However, the EA also found there is currently an ‘apparent levelling off of the market’ as prices have increased on some RDF export routes so that they are becoming as expensive as English landfills. This has been attributed to a range of factors, including saturation of some markets. Therefore, they conclude, that it isn’t possible to make an assessment of the future of the export market as it will be impacted by cost and capacity and any future regulation.

By working with Clarity to divert your waste from landfill you will access our expanding network of UK RDF outlets. Joining this network enables your material to be sent to any of several UK sites. If a single site is shut down for technical or weather reasons, we can find alternative solutions within our network, giving you full confidence that your waste stream will keep flowing. To find out more about our RDF solutions call our team on 0845 129 7177

Our team will also be at RWM at the NEC Birmingham, 15 – 17 September – so come and meet us there on stand 4N39.

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