The UK currently exports 2.5MT/year of RDF to Europe. Biffa exports c.500,000 tonnes/year of RDF from production plants to European waste-fuelled CHP plants.
Biffa is one of the UK’s largest producers of RDF, delivering more than 2,000 tonnes RDF to energy recovery facilities every day.
The RDF is delivered to facilities in the UK and to selected partners in the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, transported by sea from multiple ports and in vehicles making their return journey to these countries.
In September 2015, Biffa published The Reality Gap, a report looking at the issues of residual waste and energy recovery in terms of UK requirements and infrastructure capacity.
RDF exports have enabled UK waste producers to divert their residual waste from landfill and convert it into energy at European plants.
Collecting materials which can be economically and practicably recycled and making use of the combustible residual waste as a potential source of fuel makes environmental and economic sense. It is also consistent with UK Government policy, which includes developing more low-carbon, secure sources of energy supply.
Biffa prepares the waste by removing recyclable materials and then drying and shredding the remaining material before baling it for transport. Weekly analysis ensures the highest standards of RDF production. The final product can be used to generate heat and electricity.
Using non-recyclable waste as a fuel has many benefits, including reducing our reliance on fossil fuels for energy and reducing the need for landfill.
RDF export also makes use of current surplus European EfW capacity in countries which have found themselves in that position as a result of how they have historically funded and developed their infrastructure capacity differently to the UK.
Growing the UK’s Capacity
Biffa operates a network of RDF production sites across the UK, giving regional capabilities in the South East, South West, Midlands, North West, North East, Central Scotland and Glasgow.
UK infrastructure is improving all the time and there are increasing opportunities to use RDF locally. For example, Biffa delivers nearly 1,000 tonnes of RDF every day to the recently opened Ferrybridge energy recovery facility, enabling the regions of the North West and North East to be powered in part by their own waste.
We are also looking to develop UK energy recovery facilities and have a fully consented 350Ktpa project at Newhurst Quarry near Shepshed, Leicestershire.
RDF export will continue to play a vital role and provide UK waste producers with a cost effective, non-landfill option – taking advantage of the spare capacity available in Europe – until the UK catches up and develops more domestic waste-fuelled power generation capacity of its own, including opportunities for CHP where they may exist.
In the meantime, Biffa’s RDF fuel supply business provides a flexible and tonnage adaptable solution, which complements recycling, benefits waste producers by keeping costs down, and recovers most readily accessible value from that material in the form of energy.