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Biffa refuse derived fuel

Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF)

At the moment, the UK exports 2.5MT/year of RDF to Europe. From production plants, Biffa exports c.500,000 tonnes/year of RDF to European waste-fuelled CHP plants.

Biffa is one of the UK’s largest producers of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), delivering more than 2,000 tonnes of RDF to energy recovery facilities every day. Transported by sea from multiple ports and in vehicles, the RDF is delivered to facilities throughout the UK, and to selected partners from the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden.  Biffa published The Reality Gap in September 2015, a report outlining the issues of residual waste and energy recovery in terms of UK infrastructure capacity and requirements.

Why Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF)?

UK waste producers have been able to divert their residual waste from landfill and then convert it into energy at European plants due to Refuse Derived Fuel exports being allowed. It makes environmental and economic sense to collect materials that can be economically and practicably recycled, and make use of the combustible residual waste as a potential source of fuel. RDF is also consistent with the UK Government policies including developing more secure low-carbon sources of energy.

Before baling it for transport, the team at Biffa prepares the waste by firstly removing recyclables and then drying and shredding the remaining material. Weekly analysis ensures the highest standards of RDF production, and the final product can be used to generate heat and electricity. Turning non-recyclable waste into fuel has many benefits such as reducing the need for landfill and the reliance on fossil fuels for energy. RDF export is also making use of current surplus European EfW capacity in countries that found themselves having historically funded and developed their infrastructure capacity differently compared to the UK.

Growing the UK’s Capacity

Biffa operates a network of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) production sites across the UK, maintaining regional capabilities in the South East, South West, Midlands, North West, North East, Central Scotland, and Glasgow. The infrastructure of the UK is constantly improving and the opportunities to use RDF locally are increasing. For example, delivering nearly 1,000 tonnes of RDF daily to the recently opened Ferrybridge Energy Recovery Facility, Biffa enables regions from the North East and North West to be powered 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.

Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) Export

Refuse Derived Fuel export are still playing a vital role and offer UK waste producers a cost effective, non-landfill option (using 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 of the readily accessible value from materials in the form of energy.