The Environment Agency published the final data up to the end of December 2014 in February. It shows that the overall tonnage of RDF sent overseas throughout the year topped 2,373,611 tonnes.
The figures confirm the rapid growth in demand for RDF from operators in the UK from European energy from waste facilities, with 2014 continuing the trend of increasing exports to facilities overseas.
RDF is a fuel produced by shredding and dehydrating solid waste, which companies wishing to export are required to notify the Environment Agency of its final destination, to ensure it does not end up in landfill.
The 2014 figures show that RDF exports grew by more than 780,000 tonnes in 2014 compared to 2013, when 1.58 million tonnes of refuse derived fuel were exported). This is significantly higher than the 892,900 tonnes recorded as exported during 2012 and just 272,000 tonnes during 2011.
Twelve European countries received RDF from the England and Wales. These countries included: Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, France, Belgium, Finland, Poland and Sweden.
If you look at the graph below you will notice that the Netherlands continues to take up the majority demand for material, with a told of 1.2 million tonnes being exported to it facilities in 2014. However, Germany and Sweden has continued to grow and these two nations now make up a greater proportion of the export market from the UK.
In 2014 the agency also saw SITA UK knocked off the top spot as the largest exporter of RDF to the continent, having been replaced by Biffa. The two firms sent a combined total of more than 632,000 tonnes overseas throughout the year, Biffa having topped the chart with a total of 334,510 tonnes, followed by SITA on 298,223 tonnes.
Other firms exporting large amounts of RDF to Europe include Hertfordshire-based Andusia Recovered Fuels, FCC, Seneca and New Earth Solutions.
Tony Baker, Compliance and Safety Manager at GPT Waste, said:
“Many of GPT’s Waste Service Providers and Processors are either manufacturing an RDF product themselves, or sending the non-recyclable residual element from their MRF’s to a specialist producer of RDF. Great news as this avoids the landfill option and moves residual waste from disposal to the recovery category of the hierarchy.”
“RDF product quality is currently specified by the overseas recovery facilities. Keeping recyclable material out of RDF will be a challenge! Factors such as a depressed recyclate commodity market, recent initiatives and legislation to improve quality of recyclate, and the associated processing/extraction and presentation costs may ultimately lead to higher proportions of recyclable material finding its way into the RDF product, therefore, adversely affecting the aim of the waste hierarchy principle.”