The sixth issue of Eunomia’s Residual Waste Infrastructure Review is out, and it shows that there has been further increases in incineration capacity at a time when residual waste arisings have been falling. If one combines Eunomia’s forecasts with the 2015 and 2020 trends for English waste arisings set out in the Government’s February 2013 paper Forecasting 2020 waste arisings and treatment capacity then there is an estimation that there will be more residual waste treatment capacity than residual waste arisings from around 2015/16 (see chart, below). If one were to look at whether there was more capacity operational and under construction than genuinely residual waste then we already have overcapacity.

The Eunomia press release states: “The…Review…shows that 5.7 million tpa of residual treatment capacity is currently under construction. When this has become operational by 2017, total treatment capacity will have grown by more than 130% since 2009, from 7 million tpa to 17 million tpa. There is also currently 20.8 million tpa of waste treatment capacity with planning permission, and planning consent is being sought for a further 4.1 million tpa of waste treatment capacity. Our modelling suggests, however, that even if no further facilities reach financial close, with committed capacity alone, the UK would still reach a situation of overcapacity of around 0.5 million tonnes in 2018/19.”

As UKWIN has noted in the past, Eunomia’s primary approach to calculating residual waste treatment overcapacity is based on assessing the forecast arisings for a given year with the forecast treatment capacity for that year, and calculating whether residual treatment capacity is higher than available waste. However, UKWIN’s view is that if there is more incineration capacity than future available combustible genuinely residual waste then there is clearly incineration overcapacity, and that we have already reached that point. It should also be noted that Eunomia intentionally underestimate the use of incineration capacity at European incinerators in countries that have even worse incineration overcapacity (as Eunomia put it: “…these estimates are intentionally conservative…”).

 

The red line shows total waste arisings trends based on the Government’s Forecasting 2020 paper. The blue line and circle shows that this figure will exceed Eunomia’s forecasts of treatment capacity in 2015/16. Chart adapted from Figure 4 of Eunomia’s report (Issue 6).

The red line shows total waste arisings trends based on the Government’s Forecasting 2020 paper. The blue line and circle shows that this figure will exceed Eunomia’s forecasts of treatment capacity from 2015/16. Chart adapted from Figure 4 of Eunomia’s report (Issue 6).

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