RDF Industry Group criticises ESA call for waste export ban


Waste exports

The RDF Industry Group has criticised recent calls by the Environmental Services Association (ESA) to ban waste exports describing a ban as “short-sighted” and “protectionist”.

The Group has also called for the UK government to put “fiscal measures” in place as part of incoming emissions rules in the UK to create a level playing field between exporters and UK “incinerator operators”.

In a statement today (25 September), The RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) Group, which represents 37 companies in the RDF supply and user chain, called for RDF Exports to be subject to equivalent carbon costs to those that will be paid by UK incinerator operators.

EfW (energy from waste) is set to be introduced into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from 2028. Ahead of the change, the ESA has recommend “installing safeguards” to prevent waste exports.

Andy Jones, Chair of the RDF Industry Group, said: “Unfortunately, instead of seeing exports as part of the transition to a circular economy, the UK waste sector – still dominated by disposal and treatment rather than recycling – has ploughed on building what will soon become some of the most expensive stranded assets in Europe.

The ESA’s proposal would reduce choice for cash-strapped local councils and artificially inflate UK EfW gate fees.

“At a time when we need the best environmental solutions at affordable prices, the ESA’s proposal would reduce choice for cash-strapped local councils and artificially inflate UK EfW gate fees. The Government should disregard calls for protectionism and ensure that the ETS allows all forms of EfW to compete on a level playing field.”

The RDF Industry Group says the separate ETS adopted by the UK and the EU makes ensuring a “level playing field” across the residual waste market in Europe more complicated. As a solution, the Group is arguing for “robust border adjustment measures” to account for any national differences in ETS implementation.

Jones continued: “Any treatment of residual waste will have a carbon impact, and both the UK and EU are seeking to re-design their emissions trading schemes (ETS) to tax this impact and incentivise its reduction.

“We need to ensure the financial burden of such schemes is broadly aligned across Europe to allow the residual waste market to continue to function efficiently, as it does now.

“Mechanisms such as free allowances or carbon border adjustments are already used to take account of global trading in other areas, and there is no reason why the same can’t be done in the UK in relation to energy from waste (EfW) and the ETS.”

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