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Over Capacity Looming for GB Residual Waste Infrastructure

A new report from environmental consultants, Eunomia Research & Consulting shows that Great Britain is at risk of heavily over-investing in residual waste treatment infrastructure.

According to its report, Residual Waste Infrastructure Review Currently, GB (England, Scotland and Wales) has around 14.8 million tonnes of residual waste treatment capacity either ‘operating’ or ‘under construction’.

Eunomia found that this capacity is made up of 32 dedicated incineration facilities, 5 gasification facilities, 29 pre-treatment facilities (using either mechanical-biological treatment (MBT) or autoclave technologies), 11 Waste Incineration Directive (WID) compliant biomass facilities and 6 cement kilns processing solid recovered fuels (SRF),

However, the report warned that if all of the facilities which have been granted planning consent are built and if waste arisings remain flat then GB will have 5 million tonnes more capacity than it requires.

If any facilities which are currently in planning or unannounced are also built, or if waste arisings continue to fall, as they have for the last five years, then the authors said that the situation will be further aggravated.

Eunomia’s updated bi-annual review of residual waste treatment capacity shows that nationally there is currently a treatment ‘capacity gap’ of 13 million tonnes which has to be landfilled. This is based on current residual waste arisings of 28 million tonnes, with 15 million tonnes treatment capacity either operational or under construction.

However, with a further 18 million tonnes of capacity already consented and another 4 million tonnes of capacity seeking consent, Eunomia said that its research revealed that the GB appears on course to have excess treatment capacity.

The central scenario in the analysis shows the country entering a position of over-capacity in 2015.

This message emerges as countries hitherto seen as leaders in the field of waste management are beginning to face up to structural over-capacity for residual waste treatment, with facilities in the Netherlands and Germany being mothballed.

“The waste treatment industry continues to tell us that the planning system is preventing us from achieving high-levels of landfill diversion. The facts however tell a different story,” explained Dr Dominic Hogg, one of the reports’ authors and director at Eunomia.

“If all consented facilities are built, then we’ll have far more residual waste treatment capacity than we need. In fact we risk ending up in the same position as is now being faced in Germany, where treatment costs are falling and so undermining the economics of recycling,” he added.

Eunomia said that the data presented in the report draws on in-house research, which is updated on an on-going basis.

The consultancy also claimed that its databases hold information on every residual treatment facility in the country, including those in the planning system, and has data on facility capacity, current feedstocks and municipal contracts held.

A free version of Eunomia’s report can be downloaded

Download PDF : Eunomia_Residual_Waste_Infrastructure_Review_High-level_Version

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