Resource Use

RDF code of practice released to boost customer and regulator confidence

A new code of practice for the refuse derived fuel (RDF) market has been published today to set out a framework that shares good practice across the industry in an attempt to increase the confidence of customers and regulators in RDF processes and products.

The ‘Refuse Derived Fuel Code of Practice for the UK’ was launched at the House of Commons yesterday (16 October) and was written by environmental consultants Eunomia Research & Consulting as Secretariat to the RDF Industry Group, a group of 26 RDF producers, exporters, off-takers and organisations involved in RDF logistics from across Europe, launched in 2015.

Exports of RDF have grown substantially in recent years, from nearly nothing in 2010, to around three million tonnes in 2015. The code of practice shows that the RDF sector is already a highly regulated part of the waste management industry and helps to clarify the abundance of rules on RDF in each of the four countries that make up the UK by bringing together the regulatory positions of each country’s environmental regulator and outlining good practice recommendations to combat risks such as waste abandonment, nuisance, fires and illegal export.

RDF code of practice released to boost customer and regulator confidence

Within the document, requirements and recommendations are made for each of the RDF process stages: arrival of waste at waste transfer station, pre-treatment of waste, preparation for transport, storage, transportation, loading, export, unloading, further transportation, further pre-treatment and arrival at recovery facility.

Organisations from across the RDF supply chain were consulted on the design and content of the code of practice, as well as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Environment Agency (EA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Defra and the EA welcomed the creation of an RDF code of practice during the consultation period.

All eyes on Parliament

The House of Commons launch event was held in conjunction with the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group, with Labour peer Baroness Jones of Whitchurch opening the event and RDF Industry Group member Robert Corijn from Attero covered the importance of raising standards in the sector and working collaboratively to fight waste crime.

Commenting on the Code of Practice, Baroness Jones said: “It is encouraging to see the RDF Industry Group taking the lead in determining and sharing good practice to help raise standards across the supply chain in this evolving and maturing market.”

Chair of the RDF Industry Group Gavin Graveson added: “We hope that the CoP will allow Members to set the standard as legitimate operators from the rest of the market. The Group has developed a logo that Members can display so they can be recognised by those operating in the RDF export supply chain. The Group also supports the use of the CoP by the wider industry, and encourages adherence to the good practice set out in the CoP to raise standards across the industry.”

The RDF Industry Group also consulted the Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs (ACAF), as ports that store and handle RDF may also store animal feed on site. The organisation has provided the following supporting statement: “The Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs (ACAF) has followed with great interest, and provided input during, the development of this Code of Practice as a result of concerns raised at its meetings about the potential contamination risks of RDF storage close to food and animal feed stores at ports.

“ACAF acknowledges the significant effort made by the industry sector in producing this Code of Practice and hopes that it will be adopted throughout the sector to help ensure that feed and food safety is not compromised as a result of RDF presence. We remain interested in co-operating with the sector as the industry develops.”

Hot summer for residual waste treatment

The release of the RDF code of practice comes after a summer of debate over the UK’s residual waste treatment infrastructure, with Eunomia predicting back in August that the UK’s residual waste treatment capacity could outstrip actual levels of residual waste by 2020/21, assuming that RDF exports remain at today’s current levels.

This claim was refuted by the Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), Jacob Hayler, who called the findings “flawed”, stating that the UK is set to be five million tonnes short of energy from waste (EfW) capacity by 2030.

Waste management giant SUEZ reiterated the ESA’s claim that the UK would be facing a waste treatment gap by 2030, stating that the gap could be 2.4 million tonnes - the equivalent to the capacity of around 10 EfW plants - while fellow waste giant Biffa also expressed its concern at the future of the UK’s residual waste treatment capacity in its major report, ‘The Reality Gap 2017’.

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