Waste Management is changing to be much less about how society gets rid of things it no longer wants and more about managing discarded resources back into the economy.

The UK has, over the past ten years, seen a transformation in its management of household waste. This has been most marked within local authorities as they make the transition from landfill to recycling/composting and energy recovery.

Refuse Derived Fuel (“RDF”) is a fuel produced by shredding and dehydrating Municipal Solid Waste which can be converted into energy using Advanced Conversion Technologies such as advanced gasification.

Lack of domestic incineration and gasification capacity forced the UK to export in excess of 3 million tonnes of RDF to European incinerators in 2017.

This situation leads to a significant loss of gate fee revenues for the UK economy and an unutilised energy resource in the loss of the conversion of the waste into energy.

Refuse Derived Fuel (“RDF”)

Refuse Derived Fuel is waste produced by shredding and dehydrating municipal solid waste, after all recyclable elements have been removed. This fuel can then be used to generate energy.

RDF varies in composition and level of treatment. UK regulation requires “some treatment” of waste to be qualified as RDF but is not specific about the level of treatment required.

RDF offers high calorific value: on average 4,000 kcal/kg depending on the percentage of organic matter.

The calorific value of RDF is comparable to the calorific value of lignite coal and superior to brown coal.

Incineration poses environmental problems and challenges.

Gasification significantly reduces adverse environmental effects.

Changing Regulatory Landscape

UK’s approach to waste management has been shaped by regulations and pressures imposed by the EU. This will not change post Brexit.

Waste Framework Directive The EU Waste Framework Directive provides the legislative framework for the collection, transport, recovery and disposal of waste, and includes a common definition of waste.
Landfill Directive This directive aims to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment from the landfilling of waste, by introducing stringent technical requirements for waste and landfills and setting targets for the reduction of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill.
Circular Economy Package A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.