A major cement company has assured UK councils that there will soon be a strong, long-term market for refuse derived fuel (RDF).
Multinational firm Cemex, which operates four cement kilns in the UK, said this week that the cement industry will provide a secure outlet for solid fuel made from municipal waste.
Cemex is trialling the use of refuse-derived fuel known as Climafuel
Cemex predicts that it alone will require up to 130,000 tonnes of RDF in the UK every year when it receives permission from the Environment Agency for its planned use of the fuel in cement kilns.
The company even has concerns that there may not be sufficient RDF to meet its requirements.
Cemex sustainability director David Evans said: "We can provide long-term stability and security of outlet for this material to a set specification and we are happy to talk to councils about the benefits."
"RDF is top of our list of waste derived fuels as other sources of waste are decreasing as businesses becomes more waste conscious and we see this as the future," he added.
Under Defra’s Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, councils face fines if they do not divert enough waste from landfill.
One way to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill is to treat residual material left over once recycling has taken place in a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant of some kind. This uses mechanical separation processes to separate recyclable material and either composting, digestion or autoclaving to break down the organic fraction – and can produce RDF or solid recovered fuel from the residues.
Cemex said that by producing refuse-derived fuels, councils would save both Council Taxpayers and the cement industry money – by replacing fossil fuels with material which would otherwise go to landfill.
Mr Evans said: "The benefits of using RDF is that we are receiving what would be a waste, saving money for ourselves and preserving fuel. It’s a win-win situation."
Cemex is encouraging councils who have not decided on what technology they wish to pursue in cutting landfill to choose mechanical biological treatment.
Cemex’s sustainability director said: "We want refuse-derived fuel as soon as possible. A lot of local authorities are developing facilities but it is not very quick and there is a two year lead time."
"Manchester is moving quite quickly and will probably have something online by next year but there are a host of others who are just talking about it or may not even have decided," he added.
At cement kilns in South Ferriby in Lincolnshire and Barrington in Cambridgeshire, Cemex is carrying out ongoing trials with around 3,000 tonnes of RDF as part of its process to get permission from the Environment Agency to use the fuel on a permanent basis.
This has been sourced from MBT plants including the Shanks facility in East London (see letsrecycle.com story) and plants run by Biffa on the Isle of Wight and in Leicester (see letsrecycle.com story).
Cemex claimed that the quantities of RDF from these companies would be enough to meet its future needs and that that the companies also had other customers to think of.
Mr Evans said that Cemex would prefer to source RDF from more local sources such as an MBT plant to be built by Donarbon in Cambridgeshire (see letsrecycle.com story) – to reduce emissions on the road.
He said: "We don’t want to go further than we need to get it. In Cambridgeshire we are for instance working with the firm Donarbon but they are only in the early stages of production and it is just a small amount."