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Q1 RDF Summary : Politics & Pandemics

May 2020



2020 is turning out to be a fairly challenging year across many sectors and so we would expect the graphs and the numbers relating to the export of Refuse-Derived Fuels (RDF) to be awash with red ink depicting plunging tonnages. And, yes, there is quite a lot of that in the tables of the latest report from Footprint Services.


Overall tonnages are down by 21% year-on-year, giving a predicted 2020 year-end RDF tonnage of around 2 million tonnes. This decline is not simply due to an expansion of domestic EfW capacity; rather, it is a slowdown through politics and pandemics.


Taking a look at the comparisons for Q1 alone (Jan, Feb, Mar) over the past four years, the stark drop of 2020 is evident in the “All Destinations” graph. 2017, 2018 and 2019 were much the same in Q1 at around 300,000 tonnes per month. Now in 2020, that has fallen to just below 200,000 tonnes, a fall of over 30%, which suggests the headline year-on-year % is likely to retreat further in the coming months.

The key cause, unsurprisingly, is the decline of volumes to the Netherlands, where the Q1 drop amounts to a dramatic 50% compared to 2018 and 2019 figures (which were reasonably consistent) - this again demonstrates the significant impact of the Dutch RDF tax. The German volumes are also down by around 25%.

So, what good news? Sweden (second largest RDF destination) is faring well, with the Q1 tonnages in 2020 looking on-par with previous years … this surely amounts to a success story in the current environment! Moreover, if the pattern continues through 2020, there is a plausible chance that Sweden might even finish the year in first place for RDF exports.


With signs of Covid19 lockdown beginning to ease, congratulations to all involved in keeping supplies moving across the supply chain. I hope things get easier hereon in.


The latest RDF Export Dashboard is available on the Footprint Services website (link here).


An interactive report can also be found through the website, allowing you to filter by Destination Country to see key trends (link here).


For further information, please contact Andrew Gadd at andrew@footprintservices.co


Footprint Services provides information on wood waste, RDF, food waste treatment and other waste streams - please get in touch for more information