Research finds UK faces EfW shortage despite waste strategy

5th March 2019 | Recycling

The UK is likely to face an unbridgeable gap in energy-from-waste (EfW) capacity despite the Government’s objective of sharply increasing recycling set out in its Resources and Waste Strategy. Consultancy Tolvik has modelled the various recommendations in the strategy and concluded there is a gap of up to around 6.0 tonnes a year in the ability of incinerators to handle residual waste.

Its report, Filling the Gap: the Future for Residual Waste in the UK, noted, “It is difficult not to conclude that the [gap] between political aspirations (as measured by indicative ‘goals’ and generally soft targets) and the overall ability to deliver them has potentially never been so great.”


Tolvik director Adrian Judge said, “The amount of residual waste is projected to become a little larger than before by around 2-2.5m tonnes by 2035.” This was because there had not previously been any clarity on how the Government proposed to hit the EU Circular Economy target of 65% recycling.

The strategy set that out with proposals that could be modelled “but it will be less effective than it could be as there seems to be little understanding among politicians of the magnitude of the changes needed to make it happen,” Judge said. He explained, “We think there will be more residual waste than previously projected because we can now see how much by modelling the strategy.”

Its modelling showed that by 2035 if there were no change in policy residual waste would increase from around 28m tonnes a year to almost 31m. Under Defra’s projections in the strategy this would decrease to some 20.0m tonnes but Tolvik said it considered its estimate of a fall to 27m tonnes more realistic.

Tolvik for the first time modelled the impact of bulky waste, outages on EfW capacity and geographical remoteness from EfW sites – which it collectively termed ‘BOG’ – material which much be landfilled.

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