What is RDF/SRF all about?

A Layman’s Guide to MBT and Production of RDF/SRF

Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) is usually a purpose built plant that generally sorts out those wastes that can be recycled then the residue is dried shredded and the resulting waste is sold as an alternative fuel called Refuse Derived Fuel / Solid Recovered Fuel. Those samples that you can always request seeing are often full of plastics, foil, papers and dried food waste. So you can question whether the residual waste is in fact residual and not ignored wastes. The plant in Westbury is being commissioned for £15m.

Is it necessary?

Well the answer is that this process is for the very lazy council who are committed to incineration For where plastics and organic factions are involved the emissions to atmosphere will always have a negative outcome and in particular put more organo-chlorines into the environment. These can be foundation chemicals for dioxin formations therefore should be avoided.

So what should our councils be doing?

By composting green waste and anaerobic digesting the collected food waste and mixing it into a British Standard Specification compost the council can introduce a county wide soil improvement programme for farms, allotments and council municipal sites. In fact this approach could be separated from large waste contracts and could involve smaller community based centres maybe based on farmland so incomes could be found for the farmers.

Recycled mixed plastics have the potential revenue source of £150 – £200 per tonne and these economics provide the opportunity supported by WRAP to recycle, reprocess and reuse. Again the council that employs local solutions to this waste stream can really save and even make money. This gives local communities an opportunity to collect their plastics and recycle them and for these projects to be self funding. Leaving them in a fuel is injurious to health and we should ban them. By involving communities in the solutions they will bring pressure to bare on the supermarket industry who are allowed by Government to avoid their producer responsibility. The supermarket industry makes the plastics and excessive packaging industry bigger and more complex even though they may have depreciated the thickness grade and reduced size and weight. These are the principles behind Zero Waste and you can spend more time reviewing this system on our special link

David Levy 20th July 2008

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