August 7th, 2015

Crash and burn: what overcapacity means for UK EfW

by Chris Cullen and Adam Baddeley


Many people in the waste sector have spent their careers managing seemingly ever-increasing quantities of residual waste. Efforts over the last fifteen years have focused on diverting it away from landfill. For those grappling with this problem, it can be difficult to believe that we’re rapidly approaching a point where we’ll be worrying about a lack of residual waste to feed the treatment facilities we’ve built to achieve this goal.

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August 1st, 2014

Storing up trouble: is export the cause of ‘orphaned’ waste?

by Mike Brown


To call the increase in the amount of UK waste being exported to mainland Europe as refuse derived fuel (RDF) over the past few years ‘dramatic’ would be an understatement. Growth from around 270,000 tonnes in 2011 to over 1,500,000 tonnes in 2013 has now been surpassed with current tonnages of 800,000 in the first quarter of 2014. With landfill around £100/t, exporting residual waste to take advantage of low gate fees at underused European incinerators is an enticing prospect. Recently, this prospect has become relevant not only to waste companies managing C&I waste but also to those handling municipal waste. And with European facilities usually considerably more efficient than those in the UK – harnessing heat in addition to generating electricity – there can even be a strong environmental case for export.

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March 18th, 2014

Sorting the Mail


by Peter Jones


Today the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has published a brief report on the last of the complaints I raised about the Daily Mail’s negative coverage of recycling issues, and I thought I should give Isonomia readers an update.

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September 9th, 2013

Material differences: collection methods, quality and export

MRF Material

by Andy Grant


Why is it that we export recyclate? The Daily Mail’s outrage regarding exports back in April may have been fuelled by the mistaken belief that much of the material is landfilled, but to some the fact that we ship recyclate overseas is quite outrageous enough: Doretta Cocks was reported as calling the practice “shameful”.

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September 6th, 2013

Incineration on a low-calorie diet

by Paul Dumble


What do you think the municipal solid waste of the future is going to be like? Recycling rates may have seen a downward blip last quarter, but if we’re to meet our targets you can rest assured they’ll resume their upward trend. That means less paper, card and plastic in the residual mix, and more organic material being separately collected for composting and anaerobic digestion. This entirely foreseeable trend has really profound implications for the waste to energy industry that we seem not to be taking account of – but which I believe will be soluble with the right technology.

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July 12th, 2013

Reading the resource roadmap

Commissioner Janez Potocnik at the inauguration of the

by Peter Jones


With so much of our environmental legislation having its roots in Europe, it surprises me that there is so little discussion, even in the trade press, of the direction that European waste policy seems to be taking. Perhaps the view is that, what matters are concrete proposals that have been through the Parliament and are backed by the European Council. Until we have them, speeches of Commissioners like Janez Potočnik are just so much hot air and documents like the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe destined for the recycling bin.

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April 12th, 2013

The Daily Mail’s recycling “con” con

Daily Mail clock, closeup

by Peter Jones


The Daily Mail ran an extraordinary story on its front page on 6th April, claiming that 12m tons (sic.) of material collected as household recycling is in fact being landfilled overseas. The article also reports that official statistics showing a recycling rate of 43% of household waste are overstated because “in reality, processors reject most recyclable material, which then often ends up in landfill sites.”

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