RDF exports from England totalled 1.35 million this year (up until June 2021), according to analysis by consultancy firm, Footprint. This indicates a 25% fall over a year, and a fall of 35.2% for exports to the Netherlands.
The Netherlands previously introduced The Dutch Import Tax of refuse derived fuel (RDF) and, in combination with a subdued market from the Covid-19 pandemic, has seen continual drops in exports from the UK. This is not exclusive to the Netherlands – both Germany and Denmark saw marked falls in exports of 53% and 65% respectively.
The tax came into effect on 1 January 2020 and since then has seen export figures drop to those seen in the infancy of the export industry in 2012. A concerning factor is where this material has been diverted to, with many worrying about the increase in the use of landfill as a result.
There is an EfW treatment capacity gap in the UK, with England’s residual waste arisings (i.e., waste which is not destined for recycling) in 2018 at 29 million tonnes but only 10.5 million tonnes of EfW capacity.
Ed Ewence, Trading Team Leader at Clarity Environmental, commented: “The figures around EfW exports falling in such a dramatic fashion are reflective of two separate issues. There has been some fall in commercial activity in the UK as a direct result of the coronavirus restrictions.
“The main factor for waste producers seeking alternatives to exporting waste is the mounting costs, initiated by the introduction of the Dutch Import Tax. Several other European destinations of RDF have increased their prices in response to the tax and, as such, the costs are rising for processing.”