UK set to face large waste capacity gap over the next decade

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:
SUEZ’s projections indicate a current national shortfall of nearly 14 million tonnes of domestic treatment capacity

The UK will face a shortage of vital waste treatment infrastructure over the next decade, according to a new report from SUEZ recycling and recovery UK.

In the report, SUEZ argued the shortage is mainly due to a lack of energy-from-waste (EfW) power plants.

SUEZ’s projections indicate a current national shortfall of nearly 14 million tonnes of domestic treatment capacity, dropping to just under eight million tonnes by 2022 and approximately three million in 2027.

The report predicted the gap will gradually reduce as planned facilities are built and recycling increases, yet will not close entirely.

This clashes with Eunomia’s recent report which predicted the UK is heading into an over-capacity situation where there will be more EfW plants than needed.

SUEZ speculated a “hard Brexit” would add to the capacity gap as the three million tonnes of waste-derived fuel currently exported to Northern Europe and Scandinavia may be forced to be re-shored to the UK due to possible border restrictions and increased export tariffs.

The report also drew attention to a “substantial regional treatment capacity imbalance", arguing the south east and London would be hit particularly hard with the north of the country served far better.

David Palmer-Jones, CEO of SUEZ, said: “Our projections show that there is a serious long-term shortfall in the UK’s vital waste management infrastructure and a potential disaster scenario now looming in the event of a hard Brexit.

“Back in 2014 SUEZ warned government that the UK has, and will continue to have, a structural waste treatment capacity gap. Brexit will now exacerbate the problem.”

Palmer-Jones is now encouraging the government to take action and admit there is a capacity gap.

He added: “This is a chance for Michael Gove to listen to the warnings of those at the coal-face and encourage his officials to take heed. The private sector cannot continue to take sole responsibility for an issue that should be one of Defra’s top priorities.”

Mind the Gap 2017-2030 will be formally published in September and launched at the RWM exhibition at the Birmingham NEC on 12 September, 2017.

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