London, UK — Exports of refuse derived fuel (RDF) from UK went from zero in June 2010 to just over 215,000 tonnes in January 2015. Around 80 to 85 percent of total UK RDF comes from England. The majority of these exports were to the Netherlands, with Germany and Sweden beginning to increase in importance from mid to late 2013.
The market began in June 2010 after a regulatory decision by the Environment Agency based on the UK Plan for Shipments of Waste, which allowed the export of RDF. It has grown rapidly since due a greater demand for energy from waste (EfW) capacity than currently exists in UK. This in turn was caused by material being shifted from landfill by the landfill tax and landfill diversion targets, and the lower cost of some continental European EfW facilities.
This demand has meant it is economic to produce RDF and export it to continental Europe, especially the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, provided these routes cost less than disposal in British landfills. The landfill tax has therefore been a key driver in diverting waste from landfill and consequently for the RDF export market. This is shown by the high correlation between export levels and landfill tax rates, with continental EfW facilities setting their gate fees at a level designed to just undercut this disposal route.
The data also show that the market may be levelling off as RDF export routes become as expensive as English landfills.
The full detailled report on „Reasons for trends in English refuse derived fuel exports since 2010“ can be downloaded from gov.uk.
Source: UK Environment Agency