Illegal production of alternative fuels

17th April 2013 Posted by

The recent press articles1 on the storage of refuse derived fuel (RDF) bales (or other processed waste) in Essex and other locations means that this issue is gaining profile. Good. The compliant production of refuse derived fuel and solid recovered fuel (SRF) fuels from residual waste has allowed more customers to achieve lower / zero waste to landfill solutions earlier than would have been possible, while we are developing the new resource recovery infrastructure that is needed in the UK. Refuse derived fuel and solid recovered fuel production has been an excellent alternative option for customers, as well as being positive from an environmental point of view, however, the growth in illegal activities is concerning.

When produced legally, refuse derived fuel and solid recovered fuel provide a valuable alternative to fossil fuels for energy producers and manufacturers. These alternative fuels are predictable and secure in production, transport and final use and, as such, provide valuable new tools in waste management.

An up close look at SRF

Large scale illegal activities involving refuse derived fuel unsettles the market, and lack of direct and timely action by the relevant authorities makes developers and financiers anxious. Until tax and liability avoidance is marginalised at the fringe of the waste management sector, criminals will continue to make a ‘quick buck’ and drag legitimate profit from honest operators and developers.

To make use of this energy source, the UK needs to build new facilities and developers need to find the funding to deliver new projects.

Is illegal activity sufficiently significant to unsettle markets? Yes, for every tonne of refuse derived fuel-type material in the UK that is responsibly produced and used for energy production, there is potentially an equivalent amount that is not being produced in a controlled and compliant way. When you look at the figures, it is a significant issue which must be tackled urgently.


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