New CIWM President highlights risks of Brexit to RDF exports

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has inaugurated its 103rd President, Enda Kiernan, for 2018/19.

Kiernan, who takes over from Professor David Wilson, has specialised in local authority waste operations since 1997, working across permitting, design, tendering and project management of waste-related infrastructure. From 2000 he has been at Cork County Council, where he was appointed Head of Waste Enforcement in 2016. 

CIWM President Enda Kiernan
New CIWM President Enda Kiernan at his inauguration on 13 November

He has advised LARAC, WRAP, Defra and CIWM specifically on ‘pay as you throw’ charging systems and was responsible for the introduction of a Pay By Weight refuse collection system in South Cork.

Within CIWM, Kiernan is a General Councillor and a Trustee of the institution, and was Chairperson of the Republic of Ireland CIWM Centre from 2009 to 2017. He was elected Junior Vice President of the institution in 2016 and Senior Vice President in 2017.

Kiernan moves into the presidential position at a time of change for CIWM, with the institution presenting a new business plan in October, designed to refocus its activities on ‘supporting, empowering and connecting professionals across the resources sector’ and to return the CIWM Group to financial health after posting a £223,000 deficit in 2017.

During his inauguration speech at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin yesterday (13 November), Kiernan underlined infrastructure developed as a key future challenge facing the industry in the Republic of Ireland, saying: “The poor quality of infrastructure in Ireland has been identified as the most problematic factor for doing business in this country.”

Noting that the population of Ireland is expected to reach eight million by 2040, he continued: “Planning for an extra 1.5 million people, their homes, places of work and the infrastructure required to support this growth, whilst at the same time ensuring environmental quality, poses many challenges.”

Annual report: Future of RDF exports impacted by Brexit

Kiernan also took the opportunity to launch CIWM’s annual Presidential Report. Titled ‘RDF trading in a modern world’, the report was produced by SLR Consulting and models several future scenarios for the export of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) from the UK and Ireland.

Taking into account the EU’s Circular Economy Package target for member states to reach 60 per cent recycling by 2030, the report forecasts that if this target is reached, RDF exports will fall ‘dramatically’ in Ireland, with the development of new energy-from-waste (EfW) capacity also contributing to the erosion of RDF export tonnages.

Baled RDF
RDF in bales ready for export

For Northern Ireland, it is noted that exports to the Republic may be impacted by the post-Brexit border settlement, which could be problematic given that Northern Ireland has the greatest reliance on RDF exports of all UK nations.

In England, the report predicts that RDF exports will also fall, accounting for expected EfW capacity and the achievement of EU circular economy targets, which the UK Government has said it will adhere to despite Brexit.

Wales is also likely to have limited reliance on RDF exports in the future, given its already strongtrack record on recycling and its major EfW facilities, while Scotland may look to expand its RDF exports in order for local authorities to meet the 2021 ban on the landfill of biodegradable waste.

Commenting on the report, SLR Consulting’s director Alban Forster said: “In all countries, RDF exports continue to play a valuable interim role diverting material from landfill. For the UK, however, the Brexit process nevertheless raises the possibility that the practice of exporting RDF will become less economic. While it looks likely that tariffs will not apply to RDF, an onerous customs regime would add to transport times and administrative burdens”.

Chris Murphy, CIWM Executive Director, added: “The UK Government can help to limit these impacts by pressing for continuing free movement of RDF, regardless of the ultimate outcome of Brexit negotiations.

“CIWM has been keeping a close eye on developments, and liaising with Defra as they work to ensure that regulatory alignment is maintained post-Brexit, even in the event of a no deal scenario. However, other factors such as border controls and delays, and haulage costs, could also adversely affect the economics of RDF export. Regulators across the UK will need to be alert to a number of risks in the event of significant disruption, including stockpiling and a greater risk of waste crime.”

The full report, ‘RDF trading in a modern world’, can be found on the CIWM website.

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