The Bristol-based waste consultancy Eunomia has predicted that Northern Europe will have around 14 million tonnes of surplus residual waste treatment capacity by 2030 – if all of the energy recovery facilities currently in development come online.
The prediction comes in the tenth edition of the firm’s ‘Residual Waste Infrastructure Review’ published in May which highlights the importance of the export market for residual waste from the UK, usually sent abroad for energy recovery as RDF, or refused derived fuel.
Previous editions of the report have assessed the residual waste capacity needs for the UK’s waste sector, but the latest edition looks at the demand for residual waste treatment capacity and the supply of waste in 11 Northern European nations. Countries studies include major importers of RDF from the UK including Germany, Sweden and Netherlands as well as waste exporting nations such as France, Norway, Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic alongside Belgium and Denmark.
Adam Baddeley, lead author of the report, said: “The emergence of an international market for RDF will continue to influence the way in which countries manage their residual waste. Proper planning of residual treatment facilities now demands that a pan-European perspective is taken.
“This can allow each country to make choices that are economically sound, by avoiding sinking capital into new facilities that might not be fully utilised, or which may be more expensive. Equally importantly, it makes environmental sense to focus efforts on waste prevention, preparation for reuse, and increasing recycling, especially in those nations with significant scope for further improvement.”
According to the report, five countries already have more treatment capacity than waste. At 2.7 million tonnes, Germany has the greatest capacity in excess of its own annual needs. Poland (19.8mt) and France (18.9mt) currently have the greatest surplus of residual waste over treatment capacity. And, Eunomia claims that the UK has only 6.4mt of residual waste more than the treatment capacity that is operational, or soon to be completed.