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ESA bids to end 'ceaseless' capacity debates

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The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has commissioned a ’report of reports’ in an attempt to put an end to what is describes as “ceaseless debates” about waste treatment infrastructure.

Conflicting estimates about the extent of the UK’s throughput to energy-from-waste (EfW) plants in the next decade or so as more waste is diverted from landfill has divided the industry. Most of the major waste managers have produced reports showing there will be so-called ‘capacity gap’: insufficient infrastructure to handle the increased tonnages.

In the past month, both Biffa (The Reality Gap) and Suez (Mind the Gap) have added to the call for greater capacity.

But these, and a series of earlier from large waste managers, have all been at odds with six-monthly regular reviews from the consultancy Eunomia, which have always concluded that the UK will have overcapacity.

In the past, that view was used by Defra to withdraw support from large PFI waste deals.

ESA executive director Jacob Hayler said it had asked the Tolvik consultancy, which had peer-reviewed the Biffa report, to produce a ’synthesis report’. It will compare published reports and also the internal analyses of the major waste operators.

“The intention is to show the range of forecasts for future capacity needs and the assumptions that drive them,” said Hayler.

“We have held initial discussions with Defra about the Government sharing its internal forecasts for the analysis so that we can be as comprehensive as possible, and we are also speaking to the National Infrastructure Commission to ensure that the waste infrastructure work it has commissioned is complementary to the research Tolvik is completing on ESA’s behalf.

“We hope this report will put an end to ceaseless debates about whether or not we need more investment in waste infrastructure once and for all.”

The ESA report was referred to at RWM by Suez chief executive David Palmer-Jones. He said he had discussed the conflicting reports face-to-face with Eunomia managing director Mike Brown at the show. 

Readers' comments (2)

  • PLEASE - if the ESA does this, can we address the capacity issues in Scotland in an appropriate way!

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  • Peter Jones

    Given the emergent /predicted trend for public finances, a government view favouring any transfer of risk from private to public purse will be a challenging ask. However an upside that involves legislation transferring risk and funding responsibility onto supply chains via EPR could revolutionise the sector by economies of scale and deliver far greater data integrity.
    It will also be interesting to compare any Tolvik update to Appendix I in Biffa's "Future Perfect" offering costed 2020 options at 2002 prices ( ISBN 0-952-3922-3-2) 16 years back.
    Peter Jones

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