EfW vital to UK meeting future waste targets

A pressing need to increase recovery rates for non-municipal waste streams will drive strong growth in energy-from-waste (EfW) technologies over the next four years, new research reveals.

EfW will be “critical” to achieving this, more so than recycling or reprocessing routes, despite opposition from local interest groups and various NGOs, the report from AMA Research claims.

“There are a large number of EfW combustion/incineration plants in the development pipeline that will be used to dispose of large volumes of residual waste,” it states.

“There should also be some growth in the expansion of gasification and pyrolysis plants, albeit from a low base, although to date several key developments have been delayed or refused planning permission.”

More successful has been the rolling out of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants treating food waste. From just one facility in 2005, there will be around 60 AD plants by the end of 2012. In addition there are a further 70 or so in the development pipeline.

Meanwhile expansion and convergence with the energy sector, via EfW power generation, continues to attract new players into the UK waste management industry, particularly from overseas.

The latest major new market entrants are German EfW incineration plant developer/operator MV Umwelt and Spanish waste management companies Cespa and Urbaser.

There has also been further consolidation among UK companies, although since 2011 the only major takeover has been that of the waste management business of SCA Packaging by DS Smith and incorporated into DS Smith Recycling.

The report states that over the medium-longer term, key EU targets for landfill diversion and renewable energy mean that, regardless of the economic situation, central government, local authorities and businesses do not have the option of scaling back waste reduction and recycling objectives.

From 2012 through to 2016, an increase in the market growth rate is forecast, underpinned by the EU Landfill Directive target for 2013 which will necessitate an increase in waste recovery rates and a major increase in infrastructure investment.

Post 2013, the rate of growth might stabilise for a couple of years before accelerating once more to meet key 2020 targets.

By value, data indicates that the UK market for the collection and disposal of controlled waste was valued at an estimated £8.9bn in 2011.

Next year sees the brand-new launch of Energy from Waste Expo under the SustainabilityLive banner – the UK’s only exhibition dedicated to energy-from-waste suppliers.

Taking place from 16-18 April at Birmingham NEC, it will cover the whole spectrum of waste-to-energy technologies, products and services.

Maxine Perella

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