Eunomia Research & Consulting warns Britain could see overcapacity in residual waste treatment by 2015

Eunomia Research & Consulting warns that by 2015 Britain could have too many residual waste treatment plants if investment continues. Eunomia’s latest bi-anuual report ‘Residual Waste Infrastructure Review’, released 24 May, warns that Britain could soon be in a similar position to Germany and the Netherlands, which have seen residual waste treatment plants suspended from use due to overcapacity.

Britain currently only has capacity for treating 14.8 million tonnes of the annual 28.3 million tonnes of residual waste produced, with the extra 13.5 million tonnes sent to landfill. However, Eunomia’s report concludes if residual waste quantities were to stay as they are and the 21 waste facilities that have been granted planning permission are built, there would be soon be overcapacity of 4.7 million tonnes (per annum). This would rise to 9.2 million tonnes p/a if the facilities that are currently being planned or are still seeking planning permission also go ahead as expected, reaching 32 per cent overcapacity.

The report highlights that despite Defra’s most recent Waste Review, which encouraged all sectors to increase waste minimisation and prevention, the increase in residual waste management plants may soon become idle and lose revenue as they struggle to run at full capacity.

Director of Eunomia, Dr Dominic Hogg, one of the authors of the report says: “The waste treatment industry continues to tell us that the planning system is preventing us from achieving high-levels of landfill diversion. The facts however tell a different story. If all consented facilities are built, then we’ll have far more residual waste treatment capacity than we need. In fact we risk ending up in the same position as is now being faced in Germany, where treatment costs are falling and so undermining the economics of recycling.”

Eunomia’s previous bi-annual report, released last November, warned of over-capacity in Britain by 2020, but this most recent review shows even earlier potential for over-capacity than previously expected due to increased applications for new plants.