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What will a new treatment standard for RDF mean?

Earlier this month the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced plans for a new treatment standard for RDF (refuse-derived fuel).

There’s no denying that this sector has been somewhat under the radar in terms of the quality of material produced. It’s also true that the lack of clarity in the RDF market has resulted in some problematic tender, sales and supply issues, where both parties are on different pages as to what actually constitutes RDF.

From that perspective, a recognised standard will bring much-needed clarity to the sector. Along with clarity, however, there are also likely to be cost implications, with further charges being added to the cost of managing residual waste from MRFs and recycling collection and processing operations.

While Casepak’s residual materials are used for SRF rather and RDF, we, together with our partner organisation Oceala, are always in favour of working in a regulated industry. In reality, our dynamic structure enables us to operate at levels which exceed policy and legislative requirements, as with the MRF Code of Practice. These, we believe, should be a baseline achievement.

But, we can only do so if the service we provide continues to be commercially competitive – and the outlets for processed materials continue to represent best (or good) value. To do this, we need to be mindful that an RDF standard must not make it most cost efficient to dispose of residuals resulting from the MRF process to landfill. That would be a completely retrograde step.

We need to ensure that RDF production, and analysis, does not become prohibitively expensive and we need to ensure that a specification does not decrease market opportunities across Europe.

At the same time we need to ensure that all producers of RDF are removing recyclables in the first instance – not just the responsible recyclers. Anything less is not a level playing field.