‘Economically’ could be dropped from TEEP

12 FEBRUARY 2019 by Steve Eminton - letsrecycle.com

A major and potentially controversial change to the regulations governing the sorting of waste for recycling is being proposed, with the removal of the word “economically” from the TEEP requirements.

The TEEP regulations are part of rules around the collection of waste for recycling and are an essential part of Duty of Care and other legislative requirements in the UK. They require separate collections (typically by material), but this doesn’t have to happen if it can be shown that one or more of three factors apply – technically, environmentally and economically practicable – so that there is a valid case for not collecting separately.

TEEP requirements set out how councils must weigh up the different options for collecting recyclables from householders

The European Union notes that TEEP stands for technically, environmentally and economically practicable and Commission guidance on the topic is available – European Commission guidance (paragraphs 4.3.4 and 4.4).


The TEEP rules have been poorly enforced in the UK and have caused a considerable amount of angst and confusion within the waste sector and among local authorities.

At the end of last month (January 2019) recycling and resource minister Dr Therese Coffey suggested there would be changes to the TEEP rules, via implementation of the Resources and Waste Strategy (see letsrecycle.com story). She said: “A lot of councils are already required to collect a number of materials, but they can use an exemption called a TEEP exemption and in effect my intention is to remove that excuse not to collect at home what people can and should be recycling.”

While they were introduced originally by the European Union, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) itself stopped short of giving any guidance on the topic and many local authorities researched the matter with the involvement of consultants. However, TEEP is given as a current requirement by Defra in waste legislation.


When TEEP was brought in there were fears among some operators of materials recycling facilities that the requirements could lead to more kerbside sorting and collections of separated material, despite investment in sorting technology at MRFs and the belief that commingled collections can lead to higher recycling rates and be more appropriate in some areas.

Now, in the policy change, it looks as though the regulations will become TEP – technically and environmentally practicable – in England and likely in Wales too.

Environment Agency official Pandora Rene told conference delegates last week that ‘Economically’ will be dropped as a requirement from TEEP

The changes to TEEP are expected to be contained within a consultation document on “Consistency in Collections” being published shortly by Defra as part of its suite of consultations over the Resources and Waste Strategy.

Giving details of the TEP proposal, senior Environment Agency official, Pandora Rene, told delegates at last week’s MRF conference in Solihull that “we’re going to take the economic bit out of TEEP.”


Such a move would seem to imply that, even if it cost more to collect more recyclables separately at the kerbside, Defra would see this as an acceptable option to help meet higher recycling targets unless it was not technically and environmentally practicable. However, under future financing schemes for local authorities, the consultation papers will propose that councils recycling more materials will receive money from a variant of the current PRN producer responsibility system, to help fund more recycling, so extra local authority costs could be paid for by packaging firms, for example.


Overall, the MRF conference portrayed a positive future role for MRFs with commingled streams to be sorted and the options for MRFs to be flexible on sorting different types of materials such as paper or separating plastics and metal.

  • Mrs Rene noted that Defra “was worried about not enough resources being directed at the MRF regulations” and that from 1 April 2019 a change in the Agency’s structure would see new national pan-area teams created to better deliver regulatory work. From 1 April 2019 four non-site-based waste regimes will be delivered by a national model of Pan Area Teams (PATs) reporting to ORS (Operational Regulatory Services). The four regimes are: Producer Responsibility; International Waste Shipments; Separate Collections; and Materials Recycling Facilities.

RDF exports decline in 2018

Exports of waste derived fuels – RDF and SRF – from England to energy from waste facilities overseas appear to have fallen during 2018, provisional figures published last week suggest.

Analysis of the data on international waste shipments released by the Environment Agency for the 12 months to the end of 2018, suggests that as much as 300,000 tonnes less was exported during the year compared to 2017 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Figures based upon provisional Environment Agency data (click to enlarge)

In total the figures – which may be subject to change – suggest that 2,898,707 tonnes of RDF and SRF were exported during 2018, compared to 3,200,787 tonnes in 2017.

A drop in exports has somewhat been anticipated by industry experts. It comes after a number of years of strong growth in exports of waste as a fuel, as companies seek to move away from landfilling material – taking advantage of demand for waste feedstock from facilities overseas, particularly in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia.

In more recent years RDF exports from England have been levelling out as more opportunities arise on the domestic market and energy from waste facilities in European countries reach their capacity.


Analysis of the figures suggests that the Netherlands continues to be the largest destination for exported RDF and SRF from England, receiving 1.28 million tonnes during the year. However, this represents a decrease from the 1.54 million tonnes exported in 2017.

Table showing some of the largest recipients of RDF & SRF from England (click to enlarge)

Sweden and Germany also remained prominent markets for RDF and SRF, receiving 540,040 tonnes and 495,680 tonnes respectively.

Other prominent destinations for RDF and SRF from England included Norway, Denmark, Latvia, Cyprus, Poland, Bulgaria, Portugal, Greece, France, Finland, Spain and Belgium.

In terms of facilities receiving the waste – AEB’s 1.4 million tonnes-per-year capacity energy from waste plant in Amsterdam is the largest individual recipient of material, consuming around 245,000 tonnes of waste from England alone.



The AEB facility in Amsterdam – which the figures indicate is the largest individual consumer of RDF from England

On an exporter level, the figures suggest that the Norwegian-owned waste fuels specialist Geminor has overtaken Biffa as the largest exporter of fuels, to top the table by exporting 363,366 tonnes of RDF in 2018.

Biffa, which has topped the table for the past four years, exported 350,167 tonnes over the year 2018 – a drop from 460,383 tonnes for 2017. This was followed closely by N&P at 334,154 tonnes.

Other companies to export over 100,000 tonnes during the year were Suez (302,393), Seneca (166,773), FCC (162,870), Veolia (158,206), Berling Enviro (147,492), Andusia (146,620) and Renewi (138,355).

Out of the total 2.9 million tonnes exported, 322,467 of this was reported as solid recovered fuel (SRF). This shows that the rate companies are diversifying into SRF continues to rise – up from 186,191 tonnes in 2017.


Newly released data shows little to no progress in reducing waste across the EU.

EU countries generated 487kg of waste per person in 2017, according to Eurostat. That’s only eight kilograms less than the 496kg generated in 1997, when figures were first compiled.

The analysis considers all the waste generated by households and offices.

Figures reached a peak of 524kg per person in 2007 and a low point of 479kg per person in 2013, when they began growing again.

With over 600kg per person, GermanyDenmarkCyprusLuxembourg and Malta generated the most waste across the EU.

The primary objective for EU countries is to reduce waste, according to the European Commission’s strategy to transition to a circular economy, where waste is prevented and materials are recycled.

Zero Waste Europe told META: “Over the past few years, waste generation rates in the EU have been stagnating if not slightly increasing. Recycling is not enough – to lead Europe into a genuine circular economy, we need binding waste prevention targets.”


The growing amounts of waste raise financial, health and environmental concerns.

When not collected for recycling, our rubbish ends up being burned or sent to landfill, which can be a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

More waste also means more costs for collection and increasing logistical efforts – something that municipalities are not always able to ensure. This may result in rubbish piling up in the streets, especially in countries with poor recycling infrastructure.

But the biggest problem with waste is its indirect contribution to climate change, according to environmental experts. The amount of rubbish we generate reflects the production patterns in our economy. In short, the more products and materials we waste the more energy and resources we’ll need to produce new ones.

Cutting waste can have a massive impact on climate change, as less production means fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Savings (negative values) of greenhouse gases or contribution to greenhouse gases (positive values) through waste prevention, recycling/composting or disposal of mixed waste (Source: EUNOMIA)

According to the research group Eunomia, the potential for CO2 emissions savings is much greater when waste is prevented rather than recycled. This is because of the additional energy and resources required to recycle materials.

Where does all this waste go?

Eurostat has also updated its latest figures for waste management. Overall in the EU, 30% of the waste was recycled, 17% composted, 28% incinerated and 24% landfilled in 2017.

Despite an increase in recycling and a steady decline in landfilling, the report shows that waste incineration has sharply increased over time – 74kg per person in 1999 as opposed to 133kg in 2017.

Incineration, which includes the practice of converting waste into energy, is one of the biggest challenges for waste management according to Piotr Barczak, a waste expert with the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). He said:

Europe’s priority is to reduce waste. But this is difficult when our governments spend billions of euro to build or renovate incinerators which need large amounts of mixed waste to serve their purpose and justify the investment.” He added:

“Until we stop funding incinerators, we’ll continue to generate and burn waste at the expense of prevention and recycling.”


Listen to the second META podcast! We talk about the costly renovation of a waste incinerator in Paris with @ZeroWasteFR https://meta.eeb.org/2019/01/24/one-billion-euro-up-in-smoke-meta-podcast/ 

One billion euro up in smoke? – META podcast

The costly renovation of a waste incinerator in Paris has been met with anger and dismay. This week, META speaks to Thibault Turchet, head of legal affairs at Zero Waste France (ZWF), who has led t…


See EEB's other Tweets


However, Barczak also warned that waste management data is difficult to compare because member states are still using different methodologies for their calculations.

Last year, a study by Eunomia revealed that the world’s leading recycling countries are overstating their level of recycling.

A Future with Hydrogen?

Published Monday, January 14, 2019

With a global shift to clean energy growth, is hydrogen part of the decarbonising solution? In this article we explore what’s driving the need for change and some of the work underway to test the vision of a future with hydrogen.

Carbon dioxide levels are at their highest in 650,000 years1. Arctic sea ice is dropping by an average of 12.8 percent per decade2 and other impacts range from extreme weather events and rising sea levels, to increasing ocean acidification and global temperature rise.

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a warning about the serious threat posed by climate change and the considerable difference in the impacts that we can expect to see with 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming. The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC highlighted that limiting global warming to 1.5ºC requires rapid and far-reaching changes in all aspects of society, including land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities.

As Jacobs grows its sustainability work, we continue to partner with clients around the world exploring opportunities to deliver a more sustainable and equitable society and protect our natural ecosystems. No matter the challenge, we’re providing deep technical and market knowledge and digitally-enabled solutions to help tackle some of the world’s big issues. Particularly, in cities spaces where there are tough challenges around air quality, connectivity, mobility and placemaking.

The U.K.’s Climate Change Act 2008 has a 2050 target to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels. With heat being the most difficult decarbonization challenge facing the U.K., meeting this target implies decarbonising nearly all heat in buildings and most industrial processes. This is driving different initiatives, fuels and technology combinations to be explored to see which have the potential to make a significant contribution.

The U.K. Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) set up its Energy Innovation Portfolio to accelerate the commercialization of innovative, clean, cost-effective and reliable energy technologies by the mid-2020s. It’s looking at innovation needs across nuclear, renewables, lower carbon and more energy efficient industry and residential and other priorities.

The potential of large-scale hydrogen conversion to significantly reduce carbon emissions

Heating and cooling U.K. homes accounts for about half of all energy consumption and a third of carbon emissions. And about 80 percent of homes use natural gas (methane) for heating and cooking3. One of the options being explored is to replace methane with hydrogen, as hydrogen releases no carbon dioxide when converted to heat. A U.K.-wide conversion to hydrogen gas could reduce heat emissions by at least 73 percent as well as supporting decarbonisation of transport and localized electrical generation4. This offers a major step towards meeting the U.K.’s carbon reduction targets. BEIS is considering several options, from how hydrogen could be produced sustainably at scale, through to what it would cost to change. With experience across hydrogen production, transmission and transportation, Jacobs is part of this cutting-edge work, involved in a series of projects that offer the potential to deliver world firsts.

BEIS commissioned Jacobs, along with partners Element Energy and Cardiff University, to complete analysis on the potential use of full hydrogen for industrial appliances, as part of the Hy4Heat program. The Hy4Heat feasibility study is exploring whether it is technically possible and safe to replace natural gas with hydrogen in residential and commercial buildings and gas appliances. The team is investigating the potential future conversion of industrial heating appliances to hydrogen, including costs, technical and commercial requirements, timeframes, safety and other considerations. This specific work package will provide an evidence base for the Hy4Heat program, inform future government decisions regarding potential energy pathways and outline the kind of hydrogen trials and appliance development work required, ahead of any potential decisions around industrial conversion to hydrogen.

The ground-breaking “H21 North of England (NoE) report” released (November 23) in the U.K., sets out how 3.7 million homes and 40,000 businesses in the north of England, currently heated by natural gas, could be converted to hydrogen and made emission-free by 2034. Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and Cadent, in partnership with Equinor, have developed a H21 North of England concept design study. Jacobs provided technical expertise relating to hydrogen pipeline modelling to this detailed plan for the decarbonisation of circa 14 percent of U.K. heat through conversion of the North of England. The full NoE report also provides a vision for rollout of the hydrogen economy across the U.K. This important study explores how an expansion of the hydrogen economy could work and informs future strategies for a range of challenges to create a new era in low carbon heat and transport for the U.K. More information is available here.

The availability of low-cost bulk hydrogen in a gas network could transform the potential for hydrogen vehicles and, via fuel cells, support a decentralised model of combined heat and power and localized power generation.

Leveraging our expertise in hydrogen, reformer technology and CO2 capture, Jacobs’ work in this area is not confined to the U.K. We are also providing a feasibility study for Equinor to evaluate the possibilities for building a hydrogen production plant, including CO2capture, liquefaction and export facilities, at Eemshaven in the Netherlands. The hydrogen will be supplied as fuel to an existing natural gas-fired power plant that will be converted into a hydrogen-fueled power plant designed to lower the plant's carbon emissions at a large scale and to a future hydrogen market via a hydrogen pipeline and storage facilities. The liquefied CO2 will be shipped to Norway for off-shore storage.

Collaboration of expertise, innovation and vision is crucial to accelerating energy transition and developing sustainable economies that are more climate-friendly and less energy-consuming. Our Netherlands operation joined the Dutch Energy Transition Coalition in 2017 as businesses came together to support the acceleration of energy transition across the country.

Hydrogen’s role in the future of transport 

With approximately 70 percent of the world population forecast to live in urban areas by 2050, fast and reliable transport connectivity, both within and between urban areas, is essential for the movement of people and goods, and ensuring geographical distribution of growth. The challenge for city leaders is to lay down the frameworks which allow this development to take place. With city congestion at an all-time high, air pollution is an increasing concern – and hydrogen offers the potential of another alternative as a low-carbon transport fuel in the future. Hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles convert compressed hydrogen into electricity to power the electric motor.

Published last year, Shell’s study5 on the future of hydrogen in the transport sector, jointly produced with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, said that in 2050, 113 million fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) could save up to 68 million tonnes of fuel and almost 200 million tonnes of carbon emissions, making a significant contribution to reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions in the transport sector.

Exploring hydrogen-powered train technology, for example, Jacobs recently worked on a Hydrail Feasibility Study Report with Metrolinx, a Government of Ontario (GO) agency that manages and integrates regional transportation planning in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. With the support of Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc. and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, the Jacobs-led team determined it is technically feasible to use Hydrogen Fuel Cells (HFCs) as a power source for electrifying the GO rail network, which carries more than 70,000 passengers annually.

Taking the green hydrogen economy one step closer to be circular

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) also just launched a new project to explore how circular economy approaches can be applied to optimise the efficiency of hydrogen production and stimulate the development of a local oxygen market in Orkney. The project aims to identify potential applications for the commercial use of oxygen and heat as by-products of the hydrogen production process, ultimately developing a circular business model for hydrogen. The work is being supported by Zero Waste Scotland and delivered by Jacobs as part of the circular economy business support service, an initiative supported by funding from both the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund through the $92 million (£73m) Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.

EMEC has been producing ‘green’ hydrogen since 2017 using renewable energy from local wind and tidal resources to power an electrolyser, splitting water into its chemical components: hydrogen and oxygen. However, the cost of producing hydrogen is high as roughly one third of input energy is lost as oxygen and low-grade heat during production.

This cost is driving business innovation to increase the efficiency and circularity of the process by identifying end applications for heat and oxygen by-products. Local industries such as aquaculture, horticulture, diving, health and aviation all use oxygen as part of daily business. Integrating locally produced oxygen into the supply chain will increase island resiliency and reduce the environmental impact of businesses currently getting oxygen delivered from the U.K. mainland.

1 www.ncdc.noaa.gov/indicators/
2 www.jpl.nasa.gov/news
3 & 4 Hy4Heat
5 Shell - The energy future, hydrogen

SUEZ Cleans Up With Landfill, Recycling & Waste to Energy Deal in Serbia

Home to the largest dumpsite in Europe still in use, Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade, has turned to French environmental services firm as it looks to clean up its waste disposal.

Image © Jovan Marković, Via Flickr

Home to the largest dumpsite in Europe still in use, Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade, has turned to French environmental services firm as it looks to clean up its waste disposal.

Following a competitive bidding process SUEZ has secured the largest PPP contract in the country so far to build a new waste to energy plant and a C&D waste recycling plant. As part of the 25 year deal the firm will also build a new sanitary landfill and take on the significant task of remediating the old Belgrade municipal waste site. Through a Special Purpose Vehicle with its partner ITOCHU, SUEZ will also be responsible for financing, construction and the long-term operation of the new facilities.

Fabrice Rossignol, CEO SUEZ Italy, Central & Eastern Europe and CIS explains that the bidding process was “very complex because it’s a PPP and there was little experience in the country”. However, As part its Cities Initiative, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, advised the city of Belgrade on structuring and implementing the PPP.

“The Belgrade Waste PPP is a landmark and pathfinder project for a region which has huge investment needs in infrastructure, in particular in the environment sector. We are convinced that Public-Private Partnerships are among the best solutions to combine technical, financial and contractual performance,” says Marie-Ange Debon, senior executive vice-president at SUEZ.

Heat & Power
Under the agreement, SUEZ and ITOCHU’s SPV will raise over €300m to build a 340,000 tonne per year combined heat and power waste to energy facility. Once operational it is expected to generate 25 MW of electricity 56 MW of heat.

When it comes to waste composition Rossignol explains that it’s not so different to that being processed by similar plants in Western Europe, but there is a bit more moisture and  less packaging than in more developed countries.

The electricity is to be sold to the grid, while the City of Belgrade will take the heat for its district heating system, which is currently meets 86% of its energy requirements using natural gas.

Being a 25 year contract there is always the potential for the waste stream entering the plant to change over time. Rossignol explains that that was one of the reasons behind the choice of combustion technology. “We’re talking about a failrly clasical grate incineration plant, so the grate can take anything,” he says.

The combustion and emissions technology are being carried out by French firm CNIM, which will also manage construction of the project alongside Serbian construction company Energoprojekt.

Out with the old
In use since 1977, Vinča landfill is the largest in the Belgrade area. It’s been receiving around 2700 tonnes of waste every day for years, with little by the way of environmental control. In June this year a fire at the site burned for over a month causing alarm over air pollution among residents.

“We’re going to build a new landfill and rehabilitate the old dump,” says Rossignol. “It’s a huge dump with leachate going straight into the Danube. We will have to excavate the waste and move it. It’s quite a complex remediation project, with a significant amount of money involved. For that we rely on our knowhow, but also on local companies.”

“From a technical point of view, the beauty of the project is that we can do one line {at the waste to energy plant} for all 340,000 tonnes, which is not usual,” he continues. “The fact we can do it with only one line is due to the fact that there will be a landfill. When you close the line for maintenace you need to have a place for the waste. Also part of the project is to collect the landfill gas and recover heat and energy.”

The Future
While the contract also includes the construction and operation of a facility to process 200,000 tonnes of C&D waste per year, it does not include dedicated municipal waste recycling infrastructure.

According to Rossignol, while the city is not developing an MRF for municipal recycling right now, a significant quantity of the available recyclable materials are collected by the informal sector at source.

However, he does expect a more formal approach to the collection and sorting of recyclables in the future, but says that at the moment the focus is on diverting waste away from a highly polluting dumpsite and ensuring that what is landfilled is done so at a sanitary facility.

Do Waste to Energy Plants Discourage Recycling?

A common perception amongst the public is that Waste to Energy plants discourage recycling. Gareth Jones argues, it can be easier and more economically feasible than traditional recycling methods for some plastic

Opinion blog GARETH JONES  


A common perception amongst the public is that Waste to Energy plants discourage recycling. Gareth Jones argues, it can be easier and more economically feasible than traditional recycling methods for some plastics.

It has been reported that the five European countries with the highest recycling rates (Germany, Austria, Sweden, Netherlands and Belgium) are amongst the countries with the most Waste to Energy (WtE) facilities in Europe. These countries use their landfills to dispose of less than 1% of the waste they generate, with the majority being productively handled by WtE plants. The environmental benefit of these facilities is on a much larger scale than many know.

To offer an insight into a debate that’s often plagued with misconceptions, as well as addressing the benefits of WtE, it is important to outline the many ways by which WtE plants operate in conjunction with recycling, working to utilise waste as a resource.

Firstly, it’s important to note that there are strong parallels between WtE plants and recycling. The myth of diminished recycling efforts can be dispensed with as evidence by showing the positive impact these plants are having. As the pair work hand in hand with one another, results are only being seen as beneficial to the environment.

It goes without saying that recycling is an incredibly positive method of dealing with waste of all kinds and we have become much better at doing it. For example, recycling a tonne of aluminium saves 14,000 kWh of electricity, and there’s no limit to the number of times you can recycle drinks cans, so the cycle is endless. As much as this is all a positive, it’s fair to state that the process isn’t perfect. The value of plastic has dropped and outlets have dried up, which has created a ripple effect across the entire recycling industry.

Financial Concerns
Despite the push for recycling, in a large number of countries there are financial concerns for many municipalities, and it appears that huge amounts of plastic are being exported to dubious landfill sites rather than being recycled. This therefore suggests that our recycling efforts alone are not enough to deal with our waste.

Most recycling centres are restricted to collecting only a few types of plastic, limiting the chance of success. As a result of these challenges, the recycling industry continues to struggle with the variety and volume of potentially recyclable waste.

For both waste disposal and waste treatment, we require a number of solutions in order to effectively keep costs down whilst remaining efficient.

While waste prevention and recycling must be at the forefront of any waste management approach, WtE plants demonstrate that recycling needn’t be our only method of material reuse. These plants help to eliminate the limitations set on recycling of complex materials and prove to work well in collaboration with recycling efforts.

WtE plants have been found to generate 500kWh of electricity per tonne of waste, highlighting their indisputable productivity levels. With the government investing heavily in the awareness and encouragement of recycling, the public has become increasingly passionate about material re-use.

However, despite everyone’s efforts, there are still materials that are not suitable for recycling found in recycling bins. WtE plants put non-recyclable materials to the best possible use. With the help of these plants, we deal with all materials in a responsible manor, ensuring that we know where the waste has gone and simultaneously producing energy.

To put things simply WtE plants are designed to extend our ability to recover and recycle. A large amount of ferrous materials can be recovered from bottom ash and the ash itself can be used as secondary aggregate, actively contributing to recycling.

There are a number of factors that can adversely affect recycling efforts, including contamination, segregation, and complex packaging materials. WtE helps provide a solution to these setbacks, helping to avoid the problems inherent in nationwide recycling systems.

Creating a More Positive Future
A common perception is that waste management plants are only there to create a solution for residual waste, whereas they should continue to engage and encourage the public to recycle too. If we are to create a more positive future for the environment and for waste management, it’s important to continue to raise awareness and help the public understand all aspects of recycling and energy generation.

WtE plants are not the smoke-pumping, landscape-ruining developments the public often associate them with. The aim is to design structures that blend in with their surroundings and provide an economic value to the surrounding communities.

None of the materials that are sent to landfills are converted into re-usable material and little energy is produced. WtE plants are able to produce energy from items that cannot be recycled so that they are sustainably recovered.

The public should be encouraged to research and ask questions so that they themselves discover what experts across the world already know; WtE is an increasingly successful industry driving positive environmental and economic growth, enhancing our aim to see waste as a resource.

Gareth Jones is Business Development Manager at Indaver and has worked in waste management for 20 years, including Indaver's proposed waste to energy plants.

Read more

In numbers: The global extent of marine plastic pollution

25 January 2019, source edie newsroom

New research into the extent of the world's plastics pollution problem, which lays bare the environmental consequences of plastic waste entering oceans and waterways, has just been published. Here, edie rounds up the key facts and figures.

edie rounds up the key facts from Rajapack's study into ocean plastic pollution

edie rounds up the key facts from Rajapack's study into ocean plastic pollution

Undertaken by Bedford-based packaging firm Rajapack, the ‘swimming in plastic’ study explores how long some of the world’s most commonly used plastic items – including cups, straws and microbeads – take to decompose, and the impact they have on marine environments.

After the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s warning that there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans, by weight, by 2050, the study sheds some more light on which kinds of plastics are most commonly found in marine habitats, and how they affect biodiversity.

Specifically, it highlights the dangers of some of the common plastic pollution streams that are arguably less “visible” than packaging, such as discarded fishing equipment and microplastics.

“In recent years, brands in a multitude of sectors – food, retail and beauty, to name a few – have been taking measures to ensure that the amount of single-use plastics used daily is reduced,” Rajapack’s UK managing director Tom Rodda said.

“From microbeads to plastic straws, steps are being taken to ensure that packaging is recyclable, not harmful for the environment or removed altogether. But plastic is something that gets taken for granted and is often used without a second thought.”

The publication of the survey results comes shortly after a string of 26 companies from across the plastic industry’s value chain launched a new alliance aimed at eliminating plastic waste in the environment, which will invest at least $1.5bn in projects tackling the issue by 2024.

It also follows the launch of edie’s own Mission Possible Plastics Hub, a content-led campaign supporting businesses with their single-use plastics phase-outs and tracking progress towards their plastic targets.

With this in mind, the research acts as a snapshot of the harm our reliance on single-use plastic is doing to the environment, as consumer demand for action on the issue reaches a fever pitch. Here, edie rounds up the key facts.

edie's Mission Possible Plastics Hub

This month, edie launched the Mission Possible Plastics Hub – a brand-new content-driven campaign that will support sustainability and resource efficiency professionals on our collective mission to eliminate single-use plastics.

In addition to hosting content that supports businesses with their single-use plastics phase-outs, the Mission Possible Plastics Hub will be encouraging sustainability professionals to submit new commitments to tackle plastic pollution on the Mission Possible Pledge Wall.

If your company has an existing plastics commitment, or if you’re planning a new commitment over the coming months, you can showcase it on the Mission Possible Pledge Wall.

Is Defra sweeping residual waste under the carpet?

18 JANUARY 2019

Libby Forrest, policy & parliamentary affairs officer at the Environmental Services Association, looks at what the Resources & Waste Strategy tells us about future energy from waste capacity needs and investment.

It is common to see Whitehall ‘taking out the trash’ just before Summer and Christmas breaks, and dump various documents and announcements to clear desks (or, more cynically, to hide bad news stories they would rather you quickly forget).

Libby Forrest, ESA

This Christmas the government more literally took out the trash by publishing the long-awaited Resources and Waste Strategy just days before Parliament arose for recess. But far from a clever tactic to hide stale and disappointing proposals, it was seen by many in the industry as an early Christmas present.

Extended Producer Responsibility, combined with greater consistency of kerbside collections and more food waste recycling, should help give recycling the boost it desperately needs. And many positive interventions on the prevention side should help us waste less in the first place.

But even if these measures deliver the target of 65% municipal recycling by 2035, there is still the 35% of residual waste to think about.

Does the Resources and Waste Strategy adequately plan for this?


Defra’s analysis clearly shows that without additional investment England will have a significant shortfall in EfW capacity by 2035.

Even if we meet the ambitions to reduce waste in the first place and recycle 65% of arisings, Defra forecasts that there will still be 20Mt of residual waste to deal with in 2035. The strategy concludes that with 10.5Mt of current EfW capacity and 2Mt of extra capacity coming on stream by 2020, there may be no need for significant additional EfW capacity. However, this assumes that we can continue to send around 3Mt overseas as RDF, and can continue to landfill the rest (around 4.5Mt) whilst remaining within the target of landfilling no more than 10% of MSW arisings.

For a strategy with the aspiration of leading the world in using resources efficiently, this seems unambitious and environmentally-backward.

If we instead diverted that remaining waste from landfill into new EfWs, we would generate almost 2,600GWh of electricity and save 900,000 tonnes of CO₂. That’s the equivalent of powering 650,000 homes and taking almost 200,000 cars off the road a year.

On top of that, we could re-shore the 3Mt of RDF that we currently pay (almost £270m in 2016) to be sent overseas in order to generate electricity which we then buy back.

Based on Defra’s analysis, this would require up to 7.5Mt of additional EfW capacity, even if we meet 65% recycling.


It is unsurprising off the back of these projections that the Strategy says it continues to welcome further market investment in residual waste treatment infrastructure. But it fails to say any more on the subject. Given that EfW plants require multi-million pounds of finance and four-to-six-year lead-in times, Defra must do more to bolster investor confidence.

Entertaining the idea of an incineration tax is only going to create uncertainty and deter investment. Encouraging more heat off-take is vital in order to increase the efficiency of existing plants, but it does nothing to address the millions of tonnes that will be wasted at landfill without further action.

It is as though Defra is sweeping residual waste under the carpet, hoping that no one will notice just how much there will be left to deal with going forward. If Defra wants to ‘take out the trash’ properly and is serious about making the most out of the nation’s resources, it should show more enthusiasm for the role EfW can play.

Hydrogen fuel cell trains planned for British Railways from 2022

Hydrogen fuel cell train Alstom Eversholt 
The 'Breeze' hydrogen fuel cell train could run on Britain's rail network within three years

French rail multinational Alstom and UK rolling stock operating company (ROSCO) Eversholt Rail Group have today unveiled the design for a new hydrogen fuel cell train for the UK market. Based on the tried-and-tested British Rail Class 321, the fuel cell trains – nicknamed ‘Breeze’ – will bring zero-emission hydrogen tech to parts of the UK that still run on diesel.

“Hydrogen train technology is an exciting innovation which has the potential to transform our railway, making journeys cleaner and greener by cutting CO2 emissions even further. We are working with industry to establish how hydrogen trains can play an important part in the future, delivering better services on rural and inter-urban routes,” said Andrew Jones MP, UK Rail Minister.

By converting the electrical multiple units (EMUs) to what Alstom describes as a hydrogen multiple unit (HMU), the Paris based firm will combine the efficiency and practicality of the existing rolling stock with the versatility and environmental benefits of hydrogen fuel cells.

The  work is expected to take place over the next three years at Alstom’s Widnes facility, with the first trains projected to run as early as 2022.
Hydrogen fuel cell trains Alstom 
The hydrogen multiple units will be able to replace diesel trains on some routes, drastically reducing the environmental impact of rail travel 

“The Breeze will be a clean new train for the UK with a stylish, modern look,” said Nick Crossfield, Alstom UK & Ireland Managing Director.

“In Germany, Alstom’s hydrogen trains are already transporting passengers in the comfort and quiet that is characteristic of these trains. The Breeze offers British rail users the opportunity to share in the pleasure that is a journey on a hydrogen train.”

The trains will be converted by Alstom and then owned by Eversholt, which will then lease them to rail operators. They are unlikely to be of much use on networks with widespread electrification (such as those found in the South East of England) but in areas without third rails or overhead lines, extensively the case in SCotland, the HMUs will deliver much-needed zero-emission mobility provided that the source of power to make the hydrogen fuel also comes from renewable sources and again Scotland is well endowed with such power sources. Scotland has been self sufficient in renewable energy now for a few years and the increasing pace of development in efficient, sustainable power projects such as the Inverurie Energy Park under development by Agile Energy  is adding to Scotland's renewable and sustainable powerhouse.

Hydrogen fuel cell trains rail 
Hydrogen fuel cell trains are already in passenger use in Germany 

“Eversholt Rail has an enviable record of innovation across its rolling stock portfolio,”  Said Eversholt Rail Client Relations Director Stephen Timothy.

“Combining the experience gained from the successful Coradia iLint and Class 321 Renatus programmes will deliver a hydrogen-powered multiple unit product that will meet sponsors’ and train operators’ aspirations for the earliest possible fleet introduction.”

“Transport in the UK has evolved over centuries from the world’s first steam train to the tens of thousands of electric vehicles on our roads today thanks to our nation of innovators,”  said Claire Perry MP, UK Minister for Energy and Clean Growth.

“This new hydrogen powered train, which will only emit water, is further proof of the UK’s continued creativity to transform the way we travel as we continue to move to a greener, cleaner economy. The UK is on track when it comes to growing a world-leading hydrogen economy, and through our modern Industrial Strategy we are providing £23 million to power our ambition to be the ‘go-to’ place for first-class hydrogen transport.”

Covanta & Partners Reach Financial Close on 21 MW Scottish Waste to Energy Plant

Covanta Holding Corporation has achieved financial close on the Earls Gate Energy Centre with strategic development partner Green Investment Group.

Image ©

Covanta and GIG will each hold a 25% equity ownership in the project, with co-investor and developer Brockwell Energy owning the remaining 50% stake.

"With today's announcement we mark our entry into the UK market alongside GIG, following on the heels of our very successful partnership on the Dublin project earlier this year," said Covanta's President and Chief Executive Officer, Stephen J. Jones.

According to Covanta, the combined heat and power facility located in Grangemouth, Scotland, Earls Gate is a well-structured project with long-term waste and energy contracts.

Each year, the facility will prevent approximately 216,000 tonnes of mixed household, commercial and industrial waste that cannot be recycled from entering landfills. Instead, the waste will be used as fuel to generate low-carbon heat and power that will be supplied to a co-located industrial site host.

Construction of the facility will be led by Constructions Industrielles de la Mediterranee (CNIM), which Covanta said has deep experience in energy from waste construction, primarily in Europe and the UK, and is expected to take approximately 36 months to complete.

CNIM will also provide operations and maintenance services when the project commences operations in late 2021. Covanta will provide technical oversight services during construction and operations.

Chemical manufacturer and site service provider, CalaChem, has entered into a long-term Energy Supply Agreement (ESA) for the offtake of electricity and steam produced by EGEC. The steam will be used in the manufacturing processes of CalaChem and others on site.

The ESA is expected to decarbonise CalaChem’s annual energy consumption by approximately 39kt CO2e per year – the equivalent of taking approximately 17,000 cars off the road for a year. The remaining electricity will be exported to the grid.

Earls Gate Project and Covanta Investment Details

  • 216,000 metric tonnes per year of waste processing capacity
  • 21.5 megawatt equivalent generation capacity
  • 75% of the waste secured under long-term agreements
  • 100% of electricity and steam output under a long-term agreement with industrial site host
  • Total project cost of £210 million with approximately 70% financed through non-recourse project-based debt

"Earls Gate is the first of four advanced development projects in the UK to reach financial close, with the Rookery South, Protos and Newhurst projects lined up close behind,” said Jones.

“We are very pleased with our partnership with GIG and expect it to continue to add meaningful value as we bring additional projects to market. Our expectation remains that these UK projects alone will provide $40 to $50 million in incremental annual free cash flow to Covanta when they are all fully operational," concluded the CEO.