Landfill tax has been a “key driver” for England’s refuse-derived fuel (RDF) export market, according to an Environment Agency (EA) report.
The market began in June 2010 after the EA changed regulation to allow RDF shipments in its UK waste plan.
Exports rose to just over 215,000 tonnes in January 2015, with most going to the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.
EA said in its report: “The market grew rapidly due to a greater demand for energy-from-waste (EfW) capacity than currently exists in England.
“This demand 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.”
A recent levelling off in the market may be due to export routes becoming as expensive as English landfill, according to the EA.
The report found no explanation for monthly market fluctuations, and said that exchange rate changes have had little effect on price negotiations.
It also described its market projections as uncertain, with exports relying on foreign waste markets.
The EA collected evidence from industry contacts, as well as a basic quantitative analysis of the English RDF export market.
Some of the data covered the whole of the UK. But because 80-85% of UK RDF comes from England, the report treated all the datasets as if they covered just England.