Overcapacity in waste treatment by 2018, warns report

The UK could reach a situation of overcapacity in waste treatment  by 2018/19, according to a new report from Eunomia.

The Sixth Issue of Eunomia’s Residual Waste Infrastructure Review shows 5.7 million tonnes per year (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, as shown in Figure 1.

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.

“This latest Review demonstrates the speed at which residual treatment capacity continues to grow,” said Adam Baddeley, the report’s lead author.

“In those regions where overcapacity is already becoming an issue, we would expect to see operators charging low gate fees at their facilities to attract waste from further afield.


“Operators cannot ignore the interactions between supply and demand.”

Figure one

The report draws upon data from local authorities’ annual WasteDataFlow returns, Defra’s latest C&I data and Eunomia’s in-house Facilities Database, which holds information on all residual treatment facilities in the UK (both operating and under development).

Data is analysed on both a national and regional basis, to provide a detailed picture of where insufficient or excess capacity is anticipated. The report focuses entirely on waste which is suitable for treatment by residual treatment plant, e.g. incinerators, mechanical-biological treatment (MBT) facilities, and gasifiers, but excludes C&D and other unsuitable wastes which have been included in other estimates of the national capacity requirements.


The full report, priced at £485, can be purchased from Eunomia at http://www.eunomia.co.uk/product.php/113



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