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RDF exports on the rise

Refuse derived fuel (RDF) exports from the UK are increasing, according to engineering consultants AMEC.

AMEC associate director Linda Ovens said that in 2013, England exported 1.64 million tonnes of RDF, but is already at 1.4 million after the first seven months of 2014. The figure is expected to be 2.4 million tonnes for the full year, she said.

Environment Agency figures for exported RDF show that between July and December 2010, 13,258 tonnes were exported. The latest figures show an increase of 10,459% in the amount of tonnage exported.

The figures for Scotland and Ireland in 2013 were 32,000 tonnes and 88,000 tonnes respectively, but Ovens predicts that this will rise to 130,000 tonnes and 350,000 tonnes for 2014.  

Speaking at RWM, Ovens said: “Exports have risen incredibly. There’s no sign of a slow-down.” She added that RDF was the subject was the subject “on everybody’s lips” for many different reasons.

The main driver, however, is the “huge” Asian market for waste materials, where it is used as an alternative fuel for cement kilns to service expansion in built infrastructure. Some countries in Europe are importing RDF for heating, she explained. 

When asked by the floor whether the increasing amount of waste being exported counted as a market failure, Ovens agreed that “in terms of energy”, the answer would be yes.

She added that the energy situation in the UK “could be solved” by using RDF materials that were due to be exported  in energy from waste projects instead.

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