May 2016

A European Focus: Residual Waste Arisings and Treatment Capacity

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Eunomia’s tenth issue of its Residual Waste Infrastructure Review, published today, updates the picture for the UK and for the first time examines the balance between residual waste and treatment capacity across 11 European countries.

All of these countries are actively involved in trading RDF or SRF with others within the group.

Facilities across these countries that are currently operational, being built or having reached financial close will soon supply a total of 104.2 million tpa treatment capacity for residual waste. Fully utilised, this will exceed the 90.4 million tonnes of residual waste these nations are expected to produce in 2030, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Forecast Analysis of Selected Countries
Eunomia Residual Waste SMLb

Five countries already have more treatment capacity than waste, as shown in Figure 2. At 2.7m tonnes, Germany has the greatest capacity in excess of its own annual needs. Poland (19.8mt) and France (18.9mt) currently have the greatest surplus of residual waste over treatment capacity.

The UK, however, has only 6.4mt of residual waste more than the treatment capacity that is operational, or soon to be completed. The UK continues to move towards a situation where the supply of treatment capacity for residual waste exceeds the demand for the service, based on an assessment of the facilities that are operational, under construction, or that have reached financial close.

Figure 2: Residual Waste Arisings and Effective Treatment Capacity (2015)
Eunomia Residual Waste SMLa

The international RDF market that has developed in recent years means that waste and capacity can no longer be thought of in purely national terms. The availability of treatment capacity in neighbouring countries now affects gate fees and influences investment decisions. If it continues its recent growth, the market has the potential to allow infrastructure to be utilised efficiently while Europe makes progress towards increased levels of recycling.

The Infrastructure Review’s lead author, Adam Baddeley, explains:

“The emergence of an international market for RDF will continue to influence the way in which countries manage their residual waste. Proper planning of residual treatment facilities now demands that a pan-European perspective is taken. This can allow each country to make choices that are economically sound, by avoiding sinking capital into new facilities that might not be fully utilised, or which may be more expensive. Equally importantly, it makes environmental sense to focus efforts on waste prevention, preparation for reuse, and increasing recycling, especially in those nations with significant scoipe for further improvement.”

Eunomia’s report continues to be the only source of estimates through to 2030 and beyond. The long term nature of residual waste treatment facilities means that it is crucial for investors to understand how the waste market can be expected to develop over the coming decades. With higher targets included in legislative proposals at the European level, the availability of residual waste over the long term, taking account of both national and international considerations, is becoming increasingly critical.