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Shanks calculates UK residual waste treatment shortfall

More proposed waste treatment facilities are needed to deal with the amount of ‘black bin’ waste by 2020.

According to a report by waste management firm Shanks called Municipal Waste Management: UK Capacity Forecast v3.0, the UK will need 4.6mtpa of additional capacity for residual solid waste and a further 3.6mtpa for food waste treatment by 2020.

Shanks predicts that for residual waste, 24.2mtpa of waste treatment capacity will be needed by 2020, currently the UK has just 7mtpa of capacity.

According to previous research 21.8mtpa of thermal treatment capacity is to come online by 2020. This would result in an undersupply of treatment capacity of 2.4mtpa. If this then takes into account facilities which fail to obtain consent, calculated as 15%, an additional 2.2mtpa would be needed. Therefore, up to 4.6mtpa of thermal treatment capacity may be planned.

However, the report recognises that any benefit of ‘standby’ overcapacity may be not be required by 2015 due to competitor projects that may have materialised.

By analysing the segregation efficiencies from various sources of food waste, the composition of residual waste in the UK and planning applications for in-vessel composting and anaerobic digestion facilities the report predicts that 5.6m tonnes will be sent to AD or IVC facilities. Current facilities only provide 2mtpa, however an additional 3.6m tonnes may be required. But if 15% of those planned facilities fail to obtain consent then 4.1mtpa of extra capacity will be needed.

Shanks forecasts that as landfilled municipal solid waste - including some business waste - has declined from 51.7m tonnes in 2001/02 to 31.8m tonnes in 2008/09, then 6.5m tonnes will be landfilled in 2020, while the UK will achieve a recycling rate of 51.2%. An extra 3mtpa of MRF capacity may be needed by 2020, or 3.5mtpa if 15% of proposed facilities fail.

However, the report has been criticised by Friends of the Earth. Its resource use campaigner Julian Kirby said: “It is so littered with mistakes as to make it useless for waste planning in the UK.

“Shanks assumes all the landfilled non-inert waste is municipal, meaning they overestimate the latter by more than 15 million tonnes.

“The majority of that 15 million tonnes was commercial and industrial (C&I) waste, the vast majority of which is recyclable, and many businesses are already committing to zero waste programmes.

“The report forecasts a miserable recycling rate for 2020 that is already exceeded by C&I waste and, at current rates of progress, would be exceeded within four years for municipal waste.”

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