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Exports do not threaten UK’s energy-from-waste industry, Government told

Waste exports are not hindering the development of the UK’s renewable energy sector and should be encouraged, according to leading industry players.

The recommendation comes in a report by the Sustainable Resource Forum (SRF), entitled Waste Exports, which warns that more waste will end up in landfill if exports are restricted.

It follows a Defra consultation launched in 2014, which suggested that minimum standards could be set for refuse-derived fuel (RDF).

Forcing the industry to ‘over-engineer’ waste might discourage European energy-from-waste plants from importing it, argues the report, which is sponsored by exporter Andusia.

There have been concerns, expressed by figures including former resource minister Dan Rogerson, that the UK is exporting a source of energy that could be used domestically.

But waste management companies in England and Wales face barriers to investing in facilities for converting the waste into energy, the report claimed. These include uncertainty over subsidies, difficulties in obtaining planning permission and the length of contracts.

Exports can continue at the same time as capacity in the UK is being developed, the report says. It calls for the Government to make it easier for UK waste companies to fund and plan new incinerators.

As RDF is non-recyclable, there are limited options for processing it, it adds.

“Exporting RDF is not a concept that the UK should feel uncomfortable with, at least in the short-term. With the UK not having enough of its own capacity, if this material was not exported, there is no doubt that at present it would drop a further level of the waste hierarchy and be sent to landfill.”

The group also called for the ban to be lifted on exporting raw municipal solid waste from the UK, to ensure a level playing field with the rest of the EU.

The forum’s members are Andusia Recovered Fuel, Cory Environmental, Costain, Suez UK, Shanks Group, Veolia Environmental Services, GemiUK, Grundon, Viridor and John Laing Investments.

  • UPDATED 13 August: The original list of forum members was wrongly taken from the membership of the All Party Sustainable Resource Group. The APRSG was not involved in this report which was published by Policy Connect which facilitates a number of Parliamentary groups, research commissions, forums and campaigns, including both APSRG and SRF.

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