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Waste to Energy Survey Concludes Positive Outlook

An annual survey of the waste to energy (WtE) industry has concluded that the business outlook remains “very positive”, with plant operators remaining confident on future developments.

The industry barometer is conducted by consultancy ecoprog and supported by the Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants (CEWEP), the European umbrella organisation for plant operators. This year’s survey, which was conducted between July and August 2018, questioned around 500 operators of thermal waste recovery plants and more than 700 plant manufacturers and suppliers in the WtE industry worldwide.

The results of the survey show that business continues to go well for the operators of WtE plants. More than 70 per cent of the plant operators have assessed their current business situation to be favourable, with only 1 per cent assessing it as negative. Most respondents report seeing very high utilisation rates in the past 2 to 3 years, and this increased once again for 30 per cent of the operators participating in the survey. As a result, this year’s survey revealed that 20 per cent of the operators are expecting to add new positions, which is up from the 16 per cent last year. About a third of the operators expect an even more positive development for the next 12 months.

The survey does, however, show great uncertainty around how the Asian import bans for certain waste streams will affect the capacities of the European WtE plants. Almost one third of respondents attributed the currently high WtE capacity demand to the import restrictions. Another third does not expect the Chinese policies to have any effect at all and 40 per cent of the plant operators do not feel ready to answer this question yet.

In its comment in the report, CEWEP said that European countries should see the new restrictions from China as “an opportunity” to use waste as a resource within Europe and put even more efforts into developing an efficient recycling system at home.

The WtE industry barometer is available in English and German as a free download from the CEWEP website.

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