Defra has launched a call for evidence in order to evaluate the impact of exporting Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) to overseas waste to energy plants.
Within the waste hierarchy the recovery of energy from waste has an important role to play; Defra has stressed the fact that there should be an emphasis on “getting the most energy out of the residual waste, rather than to get the most waste into energy recovery”. This means ensuring that where waste is used as a fuel, it is used in the most advantageous way.
Government is set on ensuring that RDF produced for the domestic and export market is narrowed down to material which cannot be effectively recycled, and also that the combination of fuel and technology is adequate enough to deliver benefits to the environment.
Both reports recognize the potential for the achievement of environmental gains through exports to efficient plants. In addition there are numerous opportunities for the UK to extract increased value from its waste domestically.
The export of treated waste from the UK to overseas waste to energy facilities in the EU has become a favoured management route in recent times. Defra however noticed that this is resulting in the loss of a valuable resource to the UK economy.
Defra explains that the Government is worried that minimally treated RDF being produced for export does not accomplish the best environmental outcome with regards to the waste hierarchy or support wider objectives around energy security and self-sufficiency.
Defra understands that an increasing amount of the RDF exported is derived exclusively from Commercial & Industrial (C&I) waste, therefore evidence on this type of RDF, such as its quality and composition, to fill the gaps in our knowledge of the refuse-derived fuel market.
Download the call for evidence document here.