Sustainability for good
Dutch RDF Import Tax
Over the past couple of months, a slew of tumultuous articles have featured in industry news relating to the Dutch energy from waste facility AEB, culminating with the headline:
"Troubled AEB Put Up For Sale"
According to Dutch News (www.dutchnews.nl), “among the potential buyers are waste processor HVC, French waste giant Suez and two German companies – EEW and Remondis.”
The AEB saga plays out alongside the other Dutch RDF news story regarding the proposed €32-per-tonne tax on imported waste-derived fuels. This would disproportionately impact on UK producers, since 96% of RDF (EWC 19 12 10) imported to the Netherlands comes from the UK. Significant lobbying has been taking place, with the RDF Industry Group arguing that the move would have the “perverse effect” of increasing greenhouse gas emissions as waste from the UK would almost certainly end up in landfill.
The Dutch situation is critical, not least because the latest figures indicate that the UK RDF export situation was gradually improving, certainly levelling, in recent months (see Chart 1); the expansion of capacity at EEW Delfzijl being a key factor. How the broader political and commercial scenario impacts on the RDF flows in that country remains to be seen.
In this mix, while the AEB volumes have indeed slipped in recent months, they have been compensated for by increased receipts at other facilities (see Chart 2).
Indeed, although the Dutch tax is not overtly Brexit-related, the potential landfilling of RDF has hit the national news in the past month with reports that a no-deal Brexit would cause unacceptable delays at ports. Further, the sliding value of the pound and the possible imposition of WTO tariffs could reduce the viability of exporting RDF.
While the UK political hierarchy continues to convulse with Brexit-related angst, the waste sector joins many other industries who simply wish for an end to the turmoil, but not with a price tag of commercial or environmental devastation.
Meanwhile, 5 Energy from Waste facilities have come on-stream in the UK in 2019 alone, adding 1 million tonnes of domestic recovery capacity. Most recently, Viridor’s Glasgow Renewable Energy Centre (200ktpa) was announced as operational, and Surrey EcoPark (55ktpa) has been undergoing ’hot commissioning’ with RDF. But, with almost 3 million tonnes of RDF leaving the UK in the past year, the export door needs to be kept open, otherwise there is the dismal risk of waste-derived fuels simply being dumped in landfill rather than being used to generate heat and electricity.
There will certainly be plenty to discuss at the RDF Conference in London in November! #RDFConf
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