BEIS committee opens inquiry on energy sector investment

Does the government need a new approach to bring forward investment to deliver a low carbon, low cost energy system and secure energy supplies for the long term?

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has launched an inquiry to examine the outlook for energy investment, in the wake of recent decisions by Hitachi and Toshiba to halt new nuclear projects at Wylfa and Moorside and concerns over how the UK’s ‘nuclear gap’ for low carbon electricity can be filled.

It expects to look at the potential future financing of nuclear power, and concerns around foreign investors in this technology. The inquiry will also examine the challenges to raising finance in clean energy technologies such as renewables and storage.

Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the committee, said: ”In the wake of investment decisions over nuclear plants at sites such as Moorside and Wylfa, a giant hole has developed in UK energy policy. With coal due to go off-line, and the prospects for nuclear looking unclear, the government needs to set out how it will create the right framework to encourage the investment needed to plug the gap.

“…we will want to consider what more the Government needs to do to attract greater investment into financing future energy capacity, including renewables.”

The committee has invited written evidence to be submitted by 3 April.

Evidence is invited on potential investment across the energy sector, including power plants, system flexibility, and heat decarbonisation.

Submissions can be made on the Committee’s website.


Scotland’s waste dump failure ‘could give England £100m’

Scotland’s failure to ban waste dumping could give England a “£100 million landfill tax gift”, an industry body is warning.

The Scottish Environmental Services Association (Sesa), which represents waste companies, predicts that local authorities will not be able to meet the 2021 deadline set by the Scottish Government for ending the disposal of biodegradable waste in landfill sites.

As a result an estimated one million tonnes of “homeless” Scottish waste a year will “follow the line of least resistance” and be transported south to England where companies will have to pay landfill tax approaching £100 a tonne, Sesa says.

The purpose of the landfill ban is to help move Scotland towards a “circular economy” which minimises wastage and maximises resource use. It could also help cut climate pollution from rubbish rotting in landfill sites.

Sesa suggests that councils need to build more incinerators to burn waste and generate energy. But environmentalists and community groups oppose such plants as wasteful and polluting, arguing that the priority should be to boost recycling instead.

As part of its “zero waste” strategy, the Scottish Government wants a ban on landfill dumping of food, paper, garden and any other household waste that decomposes before 1 January 2021. The Convention of Scottish Local Authoritieshas already warned that “it seems unlikely that the 2021 ban will be fully achievable.”

According to the latest official figures, 45 per cent of Scotland’s 2.5 million tonnes of council-collected waste was dumped as landfill in 2017. Slightly more – 46 per cent – was recycled, with nine per cent being incinerated or disposed of in other ways.

There were eight local authorities who dumped more than half of their waste as landfill. Two councils – Glasgow and Na h-Eileanan Siar – disposed of 65 per cent or more of their waste in landfill sites, and had amongst the lowest recycling rates.

The two councils that have long used waste incinerators – Dundee and Shetland – had the lowest landfill dumping rates in 2017. But their recycling rates were also comparatively poor.

landfill

Sesa has expressed “deep concern” about Scotland’s “lack of preparedness” for the 2021 landfill ban. “Our research shows that Scotland lacks sufficient non-landfill treatment capacity to meet the ban’s current 2021 deadline,” the association said.

“Approximately one million tonnes of residual waste will have to find disposal outlets outside Scotland.”

Sesa pointed out that there was no landfill ban planned in England, but there was a landfill tax of £88.95 a tonne, due to rise to over £94 a tonne by April 2020.
“Restricting or banning certain materials can act as a great incentive to recover value from the waste we all produce – but it needs to be properly planned for,” said Sesa policy advisor, Stephen Freeland.

“Bringing this ban in too early before the infrastructure is built in Scotland to deal properly with the waste will simply mean the waste will follow the line of least resistance.”

This would mean higher haulage costs for councils and businesses, as well as a “hefty landfill tax bill”, Freeland told The Ferret.

“Or worse it will end up in the hands of waste criminals who cause misery for people, damage to the environment, and have a significant impact on UK finances.”

Sesa chairman, Michael Tracey, called for an “urgent review” of Scotland’s waste policy to accelerate investment in “non-landfill” capacity. “Bringing this ban in without giving enough time to build the right infrastructure to deal with the waste that will be banned from landfill and effectively “homeless” will be a costly mistake for Scotland,” he said.


Aberdeenshire urged to drop waste incinerator

Aberdeenshire Council is being urged to scrap plans for a new waste incinerator with warnings that it could be harmful to public health, the environment and the local economy.

The independent councillor for Mid Formartine, Paul Johnston, has lodged a motion for discussion at a council meeting on 7 March opposing building the £150 million incinerator near Torry in Aberdeen. He claimed the plant would undermine Scottish Government recycling policy and could be an economic failure due to changing legislation.

Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen and Moray councils are all due to decide in the next few days whether the controversial incinerator should get the go-ahead. Officials from the three councils are expected to recommend that councillors back the scheme.

The ferret subscribe narrow

Campaign groups have called the proposed plant an “unnecessary financial and environmental risk” that will need to be fed plastic and other materials for decades, materials they say should be recycled instead. Community councils said that their concerns had been “constantly ignored and dismissed”.

The plant’s operators, however, stressed that the incineration was necessary for waste disposal and energy, and promised it would be environmentally responsible and produce affordable energy.

Johnston’s motion, intended as a “preemptive strike” to try and block the incinerator, calls on the council to cease its involvement in the NESS Energy Project. This is a joint scheme by Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen and Moray councils to build a plant at East Tullos industrial estate to burn waste and generate energy.

The proposal won initial planning approval in 2016. The aim is to have the incinerator built and operational by 2021, when a Scottish Government ban on dumping waste in landfill sites comes into force.

The Ferret has reported concerns by the waste industry that Scotland may fail to meet the deadline for the landfill ban, resulting in a million tonnes of waste a year being transported to landfill sites in England.

But Johnston argued that the proposed incinerator would generate a large demand for waste that would act as a “perverse incentive” and damage moves to boost recycling and minimise waste. There were “high levels of risk” associated with regulation changes that could leave Aberdeenshire “with costs for an obsolete plant”, he said.

According to his motion, incinerators caused climate pollution and emitted “many toxins, pollutants and microscopic particles that can be harmful to human health and the natural environment.” He cited research suggesting that burning one tonne of waste produces around a tonne of carbon dioxide.

Johnston said that incineration was “contrary” to the Scottish Government’s policy for a “circular economy” introduced in 2016. The policy advocates maximising the lifespan of resources, reducing the need for raw materials and improving recycling.

Research for the UK government has predicted that a circular economy would create over 205,000 new jobs, reduce unemployment by 54,000 and offset 11 per cent of future losses in skilled employment.

Aberdeenshire Council was playing “a game of financial roulette with the health of people and the environment and the creation of a vast expensive white elephant,” Johnston told The Ferret.

“The only decision that the council should take given all the facts, regulation and evidence is to move forward towards recovery of materials in a circular economy rather than backwards to an old solution waiting to be phased out.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland suggested that Scottish government plans to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic containers would make the economics of new incinerators look “more and more shaky”.

The environmental group’s director, Dr Richard Dixon, said: “The Aberdeen incinerator is clearly much bigger than it needs to be to deal with waste from the city and its neighbours, and in the future the operators will be importing waste from all over the north of Scotland to feed their monster.

“This plant should be abandoned. But if the council are not brave enough to do that, it should be halved in size.”

Shlomo Dowen, national coordinator of the United Kingdom Without Incineration Network, warned that “investing in new incineration capacity while the rest of society is moving towards recycling and the circular economy represents not only a backwards step but also an unnecessary financial and environmental risk.”

He added: “If one takes account of the huge costs to society of the emissions from incineration, both in terms of pollution and greenhouse gases, the numbers simply do not stack up.”

The Ferret reported in 2017 that eleven huge new waste incinerators were being planned across Scotland in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Lothian, Fife and elsewhere, in addition to those already operating in Dundee and Shetland.

Catherine Cowie, secretary of Kincorth and Leggart Community Council, said that all community councils in close proximity to the proposed Aberdeen plant had objected to it being built. “Questions were constantly ignored when asked in steering group meetings,” she claimed.

Nigg Community Council also said that its views had been sidelined. Concerns had been “conveniently omitted from the minutes” during the consultation process, according to the council’s chair, Alan Strachan.

“Despite putting forward our objections, substantiated with evidence from some very prominent and learned experts, our objections and evidence were constantly ignored and dismissed,” he added.

NESS Energy, however, has emphasised that modern plants are not like incinerators of old because they burn non-recyclable waste cleanly, conform to strict emissions standards and produce heat and electricity. The district of Torry near the planned incinerator would benefit from low energy bills, it said.

Despite councils’ “best efforts to reduce residual waste through minimisation campaigns, recycling, composting and use of other treatments, a substantial quantity of residual waste that is generated will still need to be collected and cannot be landfilled anymore,” NESS Energy added.

“This facility provides a local, long term, sustainable solution for managing waste that cannot be recycled”.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency said that the incinerator would need a permit which would require the operator “to demonstrate that all the appropriate preventative measures are taken against pollution”. No permit application had so far been received.

The Scottish Government stressed that plans for the Aberdeen incinerator were “a matter for local authorities”. The government’s preference was to see waste reduced, reused or recycled, but incineration was a necessary part of the management of residual waste in order to reduce reliance on landfills, said a spokesperson.

Aberdeenshire Council confirmed they had received Johnston’s motion and it would be discussed by councillors on 7 March.

A spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council said that NESS were “unable to comment on motions or reports in advance of councillors discussing these at committee.”


Aberdeen City EfW Project - preferred bidder announced

26 FEBRUARY 2019 by Will Date, Lets Recycle 

Acconia and Indaver favoured for Aberdeen EfW contract

A consortium involving the construction company Acconia and waste firm Indaver has been named as the preferred bidder for a contract to build and operate an energy from waste plant in Aberdeen.

The ‘Ness Energy Project Residual Waste Treatment’ contract is being procured by a partnership of three north east Scottish local authorities: Aberdeen city, Aberdeenshire and Moray councils.

Artists impression of the 150,000 tonnes per year East Tullos facility

Consortia comprising FCC and the energy from waste specialist HZI, MVV and Baumgarte, and a Suez partnership with the industrial engineering group CNIM had also been involved in the procurement.

The contract will see the development of a £150 million energy from waste plant in the East Tullos area of Aberdeen, which is due to come online by 2022.

Linked to a heat network, the facility will use moving grate technology and have the capacity to process a total of 150,000 tonnes of waste per year.

Consortium

Spanish-owned construction firm Acconia has also recently been awarded a contract to develop a 400,000 tonnes-per-year capacity energy from waste plant in Perth, Australia.

The Ness Energy contract would represent an additional gain for the pan-European business Indaver in the UK market, which has recently expanded its presence in the UK through an agreement to work on the Rivenhall energy from waste project in Essex (see letsrecycle.com story).

Indaver’s energy from waste plant at Doel in Belgium (Picture: Indaver)

Indaver is currently involved in a project to develop a £250 million waste incinerator in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, on behalf of Arc21 and has planning permission for an incinerator in Cork, Ireland at Ringaskiddy, as well as operating plants in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Acciona will act as the lead contractor as part of the Ness Energy deal and will form a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ to deliver the construction of the facility within the three year works period. Acciona will then subcontract the operation and maintenance of the facility to Indaver, for a 20-year services period.

A final decision on whether to proceed with the project will be taken individually by the three Scottish councils in early March. Each council will be asked to approve the recommendation to award and the inter-authority agreement which defines how the councils will work together. The contract is then expected to be signed shortly after.

Residual waste

According to documents released ahead of a meeting on the proposals next week, the main factors influencing the decision were the “balance of cost and risk for developing an EfW facility in the region managed by the three councils against the export of waste to EfW facilities elsewhere, most likely in Europe.”

The councils are seeking to secure a long term outlet for residual waste ahead of a ban on sending biodegradable waste to landfill in Scotland from January 2021.

“This is a significant project for the north east and shows what can be achieved when councils work together.“


Linda Ovens
Project director

Project director, Linda Ovens, said: “Reaching this point in the procurement is testament to the effort and hard work afforded by the project team and the bidders involved. I’m delighted that we have identified a high quality, affordable solution for the councils and look forward to finalising the details with Acciona over the coming months.

“This is a significant project for the north east and shows what can be achieved when councils work together.“

Ramón Jiménez, from Acciona, said: “This project is an important milestone for Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and Moray councils, as it will provide a more efficient and clean waste management system in line with European emission standards.

“Acciona is committed to sustainability and the development of new clean technologies that contribute to making cities more livable. For this reason, we are proud to bring to the region our experience in the development of large-scale waste to energy projects and to contribute to the development of the Ness Energy project.”


Keeping the Lights on After Brexit: No-Deal's Impact on Energy

by Helen Robertson
Bloomberg 
Keeping the Lights on After Brexit: No-Deal's Impact on Energy
Keeping the Lights on After Brexit: No-Deal's Impact on Energy

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. will leave the European Union on March 29 and so far there’s no agreement to replace the rules and regulations that govern vital trade between Britain and the rest of the world. If a no-deal happens, here’s what it could mean for the country’s energy industry.

Will the Lights Go Out?

Almost certainly not. The amount of power the U.K. imports from continental Europe fluctuates but was 6.6 percent of total supply in the third quarter of 2018, according to government data. After Brexit, British electricity systems will be decoupled from the European Internal Energy Market.

That doesn’t mean gas and power will stop flowing, according to Joseph Dutton, a policy adviser at climate change think tank E3G, but trading could become less efficient and longer-term supply less certain, increasing costs for consumers. This would be especially true in times of unplanned supply interruptions or extreme weather.

There are four high voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnectors linking the U.K. electricity system to mainland Europe. The EU doesn’t currently charge import duties on electricity and has a small tariff of around 0.7 percent on natural gas, which it doesn’t apply in practice. If the U.K. exits the EU without a deal it would default to World Trade Organization rules for energy imports and exports. According to the majority of experts Bloomberg spoke with, tariffs aren’t expected to be placed on energy imports.

Brexit will happen after the end of peak winter demand, which will help mitigate any short-term risk of imported power flows being interrupted, and any potential issues would be resolved quickly, according to consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. A fall in sterling could increase the cost of energy imports, it said.

“We’re assuming the cost of electricity will rise, but we don’t know by how much or when,” Confederation of British Industry senior energy policy adviser Tanisha Beebee said in an interview.

The situation on the island of Ireland is more complicated because Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are part of a Single Electricity Market. A no-deal Brexit would potentially leave this “without any legal basis,” and “with a high risk that it would not be able to continue,” according to E3G.

The sudden separation of Northern Ireland’s electricity market from the south would be an incident without precedent. The SEM is so complex that it’s hard to see how anyone could impose customs rules over it, said Munir Hassan, partner at law firm CMS.

Still, Hassan was confident that the political will exists to ensure power continues to flow even if there’s no deal. “I’m a big believer that sense will prevail,” he said.

To ensure that any interruption to the flow of goods through U.K. ports doesn’t prevent vital maintenance work, some companies have already begun stockpiling equipment, Beebee told reporters at a briefing in London. That includes wind turbine blades and spare parts for power plants, she said.

Will North Sea Oil Suffer?

Some North Sea oil and gas operators have also begun looking into stockpiling vital equipment, according to Alan McCrae, head of U.K. tax for energy, utilities and mining for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC.

“Power generators, pumps, all sorts, blowout preventers,” said McCrae. “It would be key pieces of kit on a platform, that if something fails you can’t produce.”

Oil & Gas U.K., the offshore energy industry trade association, cites the example of importing equipment from Bulgaria before it joined the EU. It took four days to transport goods from the country into Aberdeen, where they could be delayed at the border for up to a week. Reverting to WTO rules could increase costs in the sector by 500 million pounds ($651 million) a year, the trade association said.

If essential equipment is delayed, temporarily halting oil and gas production, the effect on energy prices can be significant. In 2017, a small crack in the Forties oil pipeline system, a critical conduit in the North Sea, pushed crude prices to their highest level in more than two years as the operator needed weeks to fix the problem.

Operators are also concerned that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, any immigration restrictions could severely affect projects in the long-term if highly skilled workers they need aren’t able to live and work in the U.K. About 5 percent of the U.K.’s oil and gas workforce comes from the EU, according to Oil & Gas U.K.

In the long-term, the political uncertainty around Brexit could hurt investment, according to Wood Mackenzie. An aging oil province like the North Sea needs constant work to maintain output and “fiscal stability and cost certainty are critical” when competing globally for investment, it said.

Is the Fuel-Trade at Risk?

The impact on imports of crude oil and refined fuels looks relatively benign. The nation’s refiners wouldn’t experience any “day-one issues” in a no-deal scenario and would be able to avoid any supply chain “pinch points,” the U.K. Petroleum Industry Association said.

Under WTO rules there are no duties on crude oil imports, although VAT is charged at 20 percent, so the U.K. being out of the EU isn’t going to impact the oil industry “very much at all,” Lesley Batchelor, director general, Institute of Export & International Trade, said in an interview.

While imports look secure, there’s some uncertainty about crude exports to Asia. South Korea is currently a major buyer of U.K. oil because it has a free-trade agreement with the EU. There are few signs that the British government can arrange a deal to replace that by March 29. China also buys North Sea oil, but flows tend to depend on trading economics, so any lost demand from South Korea could be hard to replace.

What About Natural Gas?

The U.K. imports most of its natural gas from countries in the European Economic Area, which includes Norway. Norwegian pipelines remain the main source of U.K. gas imports, and accounted for 87 percent of incoming flows in the third quarter of 2018, according to government data. Liquefied natural gas and pipeline supplies from Belgium and the Netherlands make up the rest.

Access to natural gas supply isn’t expected to be affected if it exits the EU without a deal but trading could also become less efficient and less liquid.

Not everyone shares this view. John Wood, chief executive officer of energy infrastructure development firm InfraStrata, sees heightened gas-price volatility as likely. This will increase liquidity on the U.K.’s National Balancing Point gas hub as a result, he said.

“There shouldn’t be any material impact on the availability of gas to meet U.K.’s demand and supply requirement,” Wood said by email. “At the moment both the U.K. and Europe are witnessing a deluge of LNG cargoes primarily because, relative to the Far East, we are offering the highest prices.”

For gas exporters to Europe it could, however, have an impact. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, all U.K.-based natural gas shippers will lose the right to supply the French market, creating potential shortages and higher prices for French consumers if alternative arrangements aren’t in place, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies said in a report.

French energy giant Total SA plans to move its natural gas trading operations from London to Geneva and Paris, although the company said this was not related to Brexit.

Jonathan Westby, co-managing director of Centrica Plc’s energy marketing and trading, said in an interview that the company already has a European trading base and so isn’t considering moving staff out of the U.K.

“Our preparations are just about how we make our existing business work,” Westby said. “We, like every U.K. company, are preparing for Brexit, putting in place measures to deal with whichever outcome. But the outcome is still uncertain.”

Going Nuclear

For nuclear power, Britain is setting a new safety regime that will maintain the industry’s ability to trade. It’s signing nuclear cooperation agreements with Australia, Canada and the U.S, allowing the U.K. to continue civil nuclear cooperation when the current European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom, arrangements cease to apply in the U.K. The U.K. said Feb. 14 that it has all the replacement international agreements in place to ensure continuity in the civil nuclear trade.

Electricite de France SA, the operator of 15 nuclear reactors in the U.K., has negotiated with the British government to ensure that EDF employees, including those working on the Hinkley Point project, can seamlessly travel in and out of the country.


EV Charging solution from Connected kerb

Connected Kerb unveils ‘ground-breaking’ kerbside EV charging solution

Image: Connected Kerb.

Image: Connected Kerb.

The installation, completed on Borough Road in the London borough of Southwark, was supported by both Virgin Media and National Grid and constitutes the first of its kind in the UK.

The project has utilised Virgin Media’s underground fibre broadband cable areas and the telecoms provider’s broadband and wireless technologies to connect and offer consumers so-called ‘drive-up’ roadside charging and internet connectivity.

Connected Kerb said it was essentially able to turn ‘dumb’ charging point plugs hosted on residential streets into smarter, more versatile points that can be upscaled and upgraded as new technologies and applications emerge.

In addition, the kerbside chargers can also collect and provide environmental, weather and traffic monitoring data to local authorities that adopt them.

Connected Kerb won the Mayor of London’s Award for Urban Innovation last year and has since been working with a number of local authorities throughout the UK to expand its charging point network, building up to its maiden install, which was unveiled today (Tuesday 29 January 2019).

Paul Ayres, COO at Connected Kerb, said the acceleration of EV ownership had meant that the need for a nationwide EV infrastructure was now “critical”.

Connected Kerb’s intention is that today’s install will be just the first in a much wider roll-out of kerbside EV chargers in London and beyond.


UK EV Charging Infrastructure

Zouk Capital named preferred bidder to run government-backed EV Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund

Image: Chargepoint.

Image: Chargepoint.

The £400 million fund – half of which will be raised from the private sector and matched by the UK government – was announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget amongst a raft of other measures designed to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in the UK.

The CIIF was launched in a bid to both enable the more rapid expansion of public EV charging networks and to stimulate further capital investment in the sector, with the government aiming for the fund to act as a catalyst for further investment.

A bidding process was launched by HM Treasury’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority last summer, inviting tenders from investment managers to be tasked with either the entire CIIF or a section of it.

The detailed tender process was initially expected to have concluded before the end of last year, however Current± reported in December that the level of interest in the fund had seen the IPA nudge the awarding of the contract into the New Year.

However, having now elected Zouk Capital as the preferred bidder, it is still expected that, subject to negotiations, the fund will launch in the spring.

The fund is to be invested in by UK companies and platforms that comprise “all elements” of public EV Charging infrastructure with the ultimate aim of delivering attractive returns for both HMG and its private sector investors.

Exchequer secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick described the announcement as a “crucial step” in the government’s environmental plans.

“We want to increase the number of electric cars on our roads, but to achieve this we need to ensure drivers have access to the right infrastructure, including charge points.

“That’s why the Chancellor announced £400 million of investment to make this a reality, revolutionising the way we travel, creating jobs and protecting our natural environment for future generations.”

Samer Salty, managing partner at Zouk Capital, said the CIIF placed the UK government at the international forefront of supporting EV ecosystems.

"This fund will build a lasting public EV charging network that runs on clean energy, is fully open access and highly reliable to meet the needs of EV drivers today and give those yet to join the EV revolution the confidence to do so,” he said.


‘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).

TEEP

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.

Sorting

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.”

Cost

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.

Positive

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.

Market

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.

Exporters

AEB

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.


EUROPE’S WASTE PROBLEM IN NUMBERS

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.”

EEB@Green_Europe

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…

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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.