The Green Investment Bank has reiterated its call for investment in waste treatment infrastructure in the UK, predicting the country is heading for a shortfall in treatment capacity of up to 7.7 million tonnes by 2020.
According to the Bank, an additional £5billion may need to be pumped into projects to treat residual waste, if the gap between the amount of non-recyclable waste and the infrastructure available to process it is to be addressed.
The GIB was set up by government in 2012 with around £3.8billion in public funding to invest in environmental projects and to attract private sector investment in areas including energy-from-waste and anaerobic digestion.
Its waste market report was produced in partnership with Tolvik Consulting and sets out investment opportunities in the UK waste market.
It claims that, as most of the household waste generated in the UK is already being treated through existing public private partnership (PPP) contracts, investors are sceptical as to whether there is enough waste remaining to finance the development of new facilities.
However, the GIB has added its weight to the argument that as the market evolves – particularly around merchant commercial and industrial (C&I) waste – a widening gap between the amount of waste and treatment capacity available will develop.
Waste firms and local authority chiefs have argued the UK is in danger of sleepwalking into a position where it will miss 2020 landfill diversion targets because of a lack of available waste treatment facilities but an opposing view is offered by waste consultancy Eunomia, among others, which claims the UK could have too much capacity by 2018/19.
In its report, the GIB has modelled a low and high case scenario to estimate the total amount of waste that is likely to be available by 2020, and an assumption of recycling rates by the same date.
It claims that following recent declines in waste arisings driven by the recession and improved resource efficiency, future economic and population growth is now expected to lead to “modest” increases in waste arisings.
As a result of this it predicts a total of between 66.4 million tonnes and 73.3 million tonnes of waste will be created in the UK by 2020, compared with just 64.8 million tonnes in 2012.
Of the waste generated in 2020, the GIB claims up to 26.5 million tonnes is likely to be non recyclable waste. While this is less than the 27.7 million tonnes of residual waste produced in 2012, less of this will be sent to landfill. As a result, GIB predicts further investment in treatment capacity will be required.
“There is clearly a capacity gap in the UK waste market,” said Chris Holmes, managing director of waste and bio-energy at the Green Investment Bank.
“We stand ready to back the next generation of UK waste projects, many of which we hope to see using some of the exciting newer technologies that have come to the market in recent years. Energy from waste infrastructure remains an attractive asset class, offering good financial and environmental returns and a strong project pipeline over the coming years.
“Much of the UK’s household waste is already being managed through PPP contracts with local authorities. The project pipeline is therefore increasingly focused on processing commercial and industrial waste, often using advanced conversion technologies. We are confident this changing landscape can continue to provide attractive investment opportunities.”