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Viridor welcomes draft RDF standard

Viridor has welcomed moves to implement a standard definition for refuse-derived fuel (RDF).

Defra has been circulating a proposed definition for RDF in recent weeks to major players in the waste industry after announcing in December that it was to intervene in the market in order to clamp down on crime.

The proposed definition reads: “A fuel produced from residual waste that meets an end user contractual specification for recovery at an energy-from-waste facility.”

This one-line definition is seen as an attempt to ensure that RDF will only be manufactured when a buyer is in place, reducing stockpiling of material which has no market and adding to storage problems, fire risk and the potential for illegal exports.

It could force some operators to drive up the quality of their bales which, until now, have had such standard requirement. However, with the onus on the customer to define the standard they will accept, there is still potential for variable quality between contracts.

Chris Jonas, director of business development at Viridor, said: “We welcome a recognition that precise specifications are the domain of customers and suppliers. 

“That said, it is important to recognise that any definition needs alignment with management and export standards, and a crackdown on waste crime by continuing to address poor practice around Illegal operations which stockpile or export sub-standard, minimally treated and poorly managed waste material.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “We have met a range of stakeholders involved in the RDF market to seek views on a definition and a possible treatment standard for RDF.

“We are currently considering the views expressed and will provide further information on how we intend to take this forward in due course.”

Sarah Gazzola, commercial manager with ESG’s energy and waste division, said: “If RDF is to be seriously considered as a viable alternative source of energy, and not just as a waste, then the introduction of further quality standards is essential.

“The current reality is that specifications for RDF are not comparable with other fuel types such as solid biofuels. As a result, RDF quality is often inconsistent, which reduces its appeal.”

MRW understands that the definition could be formally introduced by the end of September.

Latest figures show that RDF exports from the UK have increased by a third in 2013-14 and the UK is expected to remain a signicant market for RDF exports until at least 2020.

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