UK needs more Energy from Waste infrastructure to fill landfill capacity gap

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:

The UK needs significant additional Energy from Waste (EfW) infrastructure to fill the landfill capacity gap, according to a review published by the Environmental Services Association (ESA).

Consultancy Tolvik were commissioned by ESA to independently review the full range of capacity forecasts produced by Suez, Biffa and Eunomia as well as unpublished analyses from Viridor, FCC and SLR.

It predicted that the UK is heading for serious under-capacity for residual waste treatment and without policy intervention, recycling rates will remain at around current levels.

At the industry consensus of 50-55% municipal recycling, the forecast treatment capacity gap is almost 6 million tonnes in 2030.

Regional differences are predicted to further aggravate the capacity shortfall.

ESA believe that the capacity gap can be closed by spending £1.5 billion to support recycling rates or encouraging the private sector to develop new treatment capacity for material which cannot be recycled economically.

The trade association argued the UK would need £4.5 billion capital investment, which would create 1,5000 permanent jobs in the waste sector and almost 7,5000 jobs in the construction phase.

Jacob Hayler, ESA executive director, said: “We urgently need the government to recognise the waste crisis the UK is facing and give the industry the long-term clarity it needs to invest in new energy from waste facilities.

“Without action, five million UK homes will see their waste buried in landfill when it could be sued to generate energy, helping to safeguard the UK’s energy supplies.”

However, not all organisations agree with ESA's predictions.

Peter Jones, principal consultant at Eunomia, said: “This report takes a bullish approach to many of the key assumptions and therefore significantly overstates the UK’s need for residual waste.

“In planning for residual waste treatment, we should err on the side of caution so as not to limit our recycling ambitions today and those that we might develop in the future.”

The Energy from Waste Conference 2018 takes place from 28 February- 1 March at etc venues County Hall, London.

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