Pre-flight coffee and biofuel

London Stansted Airport in the UK is set to become the first airport in the world to convert all its coffee grounds to solid biofuels after a successful trial with Cambridgeshire-based bio-bean, which claims the title of the world’s largest recycler of coffee grounds.

Passengers at London Stansted drink over six million cups of coffee a year as they pass through the terminal, creating over 150 tonnes of coffee waste. The partnership, which will begin on 21st October 2019 will see all 21 of the airport’s coffee shops, restaurants and bars segregate all spent coffee grounds before being transported to bio-bean’s hi-tech processing facility near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

The grounds are then converted into Coffee Logs, each made from the grounds of around 25 cups of coffee and used in domestic wood burners and multi-fuel stoves. Recycling coffee grounds this way saves 80% on CO2 emissions than if they were sent to landfill and 70% than if they were sent to an anaerobic digestion facility and mixed with food waste.

Dealing with the waste grounds and disposable cups from global coffee consumption is a mammoth undertaking, with an estimated 2.25 billion cups of coffee being consumed each day. AcuComm’s WasteView database currently includes 16 projects featuring coffee-related waste.

Bioenergy Leads Renewable Generation in UK in Q2 2019

At the end of September 2019, the UK government released the latest Energy Trends statistical report which reveals that energy production from bioenergy and waste rose by 10.4% during the second quarter of 2019 when compared to the same period of 2018.

The increase in output is attributed to increased capacity, with an 8.5% rise in plant biomass capacity primarily due to the biomass conversion of Lynemouth power station and the conversion of another unit at the Drax Power Station in Selby, North Yorkshire.

Electricity generation from bioenergy increased by 7.2% 9.2 TWh over the second quarter of 2018. The increase in generation from plant biomass was partially offset by reduced generation from landfill gas and anaerobic digestion.

Bioenergy accounted for the largest share of the UK’s renewable generation during the quarter, at 34%, ahead of onshore wind at 22%, offshore wind at 22%, solar photovoltaics at 18%, and hydro at 3.5%.

AcuComm’s WasteView database has details of 867 active biomass energy plants, 133 landfill gas plants and 1,102 anaerobic digestion plants, valued at a total of US$88,326 million.

A Guide to WasteView Contract Finder

WasteView Contract Finder provides your business with unparalleled access to ‘real-time’ business opportunities in the Waste, Bioenergy & Recycling sectors. Projects in our industry-leading database are added and updated daily by our team of expert global researchers.

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With WasteView Contract Finder, you get full access to the AcuComm database. This includes access to 7,300+ projects and the contact details of over 21,000 decision-makers that are associated with them.

Your subscription gives you unlimited downloads, the ability to search by company and an easy export functionality to populate your CRM.

Get started by identifying your new business opportunities in less than a minute.

If you’d like any more information about WasteView Contract Finder or any other of AcuComm’s products, get in touch with the team today on 01243 788686.

Dutch tax on imported waste will impact the UK

The Dutch government is to tax waste imported for incineration as from 1st January 2020 in a measure which expands on the afvalstoffenbelasting, an existing tax on domestic waste sent for incineration. This waste tax rate currently stands at €32.12 per tonne. The expansion of the tax was formally announced as part of  its 2020 budget plans published on 18th September.

The government predicts that the expansion of the tax will all but eliminate imports of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) in just three years as the tax would raise the total cost of waste incineration in the Netherlands above the average price in competing countries. RDF imports currently make up around a quarter of all of the wastes incinerated in Dutch WtE plants. The Netherlands imported approximately 1.9 million tonnes of waste for incineration in 2017.

The impact of the additional taxation will be felt keenly in the UK which exports more of its RDF to the Netherlands than any other country. In 2018, almost half of UK exports (about 1.3 million tonnes) was sent to the Netherlands.

So there promises to be tougher times ahead, not only for WtE plant operators in the Netherlands, but also for UK RDF exporters which will have to find new markets to sell to, or find alternative disposal methods closer to home, which could boost recycling, WtE and perhaps even landfill activity in the UK.

VTT biofuel trial success leading to industrial scale-up

During September, the production of biofuel by gasification of biomass residues was successfully validated in the EU’s COMSYN project. The process performance was verified with crushed bark in an 80 hour-long test run at Finland’s Technical Research Centre – VTT. The syngas conversion to Fischer-Tropsch (FT) products was conducted by Berlin-based IneraTec.

The main focus of the test was to study and verify the performance of the gas cleaning train, and especially the entire synthesis process with real wood-derived gasification gas.

“The first validation test runs successfully demonstrated the efficiency of the compact gasification and synthesis process concept, as well as the production of FT-products, waxes and other hydrocarbons” said Principal Scientist Pekka Simell from VTT.

The crushed bark was gasified in a fluidised-bed gasifier with steam as the main gasification agent. The raw gasification gas was filtered with advanced metal filters supplied by GKN Sinter Metals Filters. Tars and light hydrocarbon gases were reformed using the staged reformer concept developed by VTT. Final cleaning of the reformed synthesis gas of sulphur and other remaining contaminants was realised through a robust sorbent-based cleaning process developed by VTT.

Based on the results, industrial-scale plants in the range of 25,000-50,000 tonnes per annum will be designed and techno-economic and environmental assessments, as well as business case studies, will be carried out by the DLR German Aerospace Center and two engineering companies: Wood from Italy and ÅF-Consult from Finland.

COMSYN is a four-year EU Horizon 2020 project that lasts from 2017 to 2021 with a budget of EUR 5.1 million from EU Horizon 2020. The project consortium consists of seven partners from four different countries combining research institutes, SME and top-level European industry. The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

AcuComm’s WasteView projects database currently has 17 projects featuring the installation of Fischer-Tropsch technology, for further details search here.

Indorama Planning Massive Investment in Plastic Recycling

Thailand’s Indorama Ventures has announced plans to invest US$1.5 billion in recycling as the environmental impact of single-use plastic becomes increasingly important to consumers and as regulatory pressures mount.

Indorama’s main business is the production of PET resin, used in the manufacture of plastic bottles, fibres and tyres. In the 12 months to June 30th 2019, Indorama produced nearly 5,000 kilotons of PET.

US$1 billion will be invested over the next five years, including greenfield and brownfield mergers and acquisitions focusing on bottle-to-bottle recycling.

Indorama currently has 11 recycling sites around the world, including plants in Thailand, Mexico and France, and aims to step up its green credentials in response to new regulation being introduced by governments and changing expectations from customers.

After 2023, Indorama plans to invest an additional US$500 million by 2025 to help customers achieve then European Commission’s target of incorporating 25% of recycled plastic in PET bottles.

AcuComm’s WasteView projects database includes 187 plastics recycling facilities, of which 23 are in Asia. Click here to view them all.

Focus on France

This week I thought we’d take a look at recent waste industry activity in France. The latest Eurostat data runs to 2016. In that year, just over 304.8 million tonnes of waste was treated in France. The leading category was recycling, which accounted for 199.3 million tonnes, or 65.4% of the total. The proportion sent to landfill is falling slowly, but still amounted to 84.0 million tonnes in 2016, equal to 27.6%. Relatively little use is made of incineration. WtE plants accounted for 16.5 million tonnes in 2016, equal to 5.4% of the total. There is also a small amount of non-WtE incineration, amounting to 5.0 million tonnes in 2016.

france-graph1
Source: Eurostat

Eurostat figures, a few years old as they are, can give an idea of where things were in the past, but shed far less light on the future direction and focus for investment currently in the market. The AcuComm database currently holds 61 waste-related projects in France for the 2013-2019 period. These are worth US$3,318 million, or around US$54 million each on average. Total annual capacity is just over 6.9 million tonnes, equal to 114,074 per project and around 350 tonnes per day per project. Power/heat generation amounts to an estimated 297 MW or 4.9 MW each on average.

The greatest number of projects are for recycling facilities. There are 17 of these, although they tend to be relatively small in size with an average value of US$26 million. There are 15 WtE incineration facilities currently listed, with an average value of US$71 million. These unsurprisingly account for the bulk of the additional power capacity, at 201 MW, equal to 68% of the total.

france-graph2Source: AcuComm database, September 2019. Click here to explore the full dataset online.

Out of the 61 projects, 29 are currently operational, with 17 under way and the remainder in various stages of planning. The map below shows the location of these projects, where known.

france-mapSource: AcuComm database, September 2019

Is Germany burning too much?

Germany has a long way to go to achieve a circular economy, incinerating too much and recycling too little, according to a new study by the Oeko-Institut and Alwast Consulting on behalf of the NABU, one of the country’s oldest and largest environment associations.

Germany currently incinerates 26 million tonnes of waste each year, but this could be reduced to 21 million tonnes if its waste laws were fully implemented, waste consistently separated and recycling quotas met.

The study cites three examples of large gaps in the enforcement of Germany’s waste laws:

Biowaste: Under the Closed Substance Cycle Act, (Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz), biowaste must be collected separately in the municipalities, but a failure to achieve this means that instead of being converted into biogas and compost, biowaste is ending up at waste incineration plants instead.

Commercial waste: The commercial waste ordinance (Gewerbeabfallverordnung) stipulates that waste fractions such as metals, wood or plastics must be collected separately. However, due to a lack of on-the-spot checks by law enforcement agencies, only a small proportion of commercial waste is actually collected separately and then recycled, meaning that the majority is simply incinerated. By implementing the law properly it would be possible to divert a further another 1.7 million tonnes of waste away from incineration each year.

Packaging waste: The Packaging Act (Verpackungsgesetz) specifies recycling quotas for various packaging waste – by 2022, 63% of plastic packaging waste must be recycled. However, the study finds that it is unclear whether the legal requirements are being met, with manufacturers unafraid of the consequences of failing to comply.

The study shows that 49 of Germany’s 66 waste incineration plants will be in need of modernisation by 2030, affecting more than 60% of total capacity. It argues that improved recycling and adherence to the existing laws would reduce the requirement for incineration, leading to huge savings through the dismantling of plants rather than their modernisation. “The money would be much better spent, if you put it into an effective waste management infrastructure with more sorting and recycling, more waste advice and measures to reduce the total amount of waste” commented NABU waste specialist Michael Jedelhauser.

AcuComm’s WasteView project database currently covers 29 waste-to-energy and incineration projects in Germany.

Singapore’s Zero Waste Masterplan

In the face of a seven-fold increase over the past 40 years in the amount of waste requiring disposal, which will see the country’s only landfill run out of space by 2035, Singapore has revealed its inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan. The Masterplan maps out Singapore’s key strategies to “build a sustainable, resource-efficient and climate-resilient nation”. This includes adopting a circular economy approach to waste and resource management practices, and shifting towards more sustainable production and consumption.

The Masterplan has set a new waste reduction target for Singapore – to reduce the waste sent to Semakau Landfill each day by 30% by 2030 to extend its lifespan beyond 2035.  This is in addition to existing targets under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint to increase the overall recycling rate to 70%, non-domestic recycling rate to 81% and domestic recycling rate to 30% by 2030.

Whilst Singapore has decided that sustainability and recycling are fundamental pillars of its waste strategy, it is also committed to increasing its incineration capacity, with a flagship 120 MW waste-to-energy plant currently under development at Tuas.  A consortium comprising Hyflux Ltd and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is developing this US$540 million facility which will dispose of 3,600 tonnes of waste per day and is due to be operational in 2020.

How will the US improve WtE?

As we know, municipal solid waste is both a potentially valuable resource and a significant disposal problem. In the United States, more than 260 million tons (236 million tonnes) was produced in 2015, equivalent to 4.4 lbs (2kg) per person.

To address the issue, the US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), has conducted an assessment of potential research and development (R&D) activities that could improve the economic viability of various municipal solid waste-to-energy (WtE) options.

The report identifies several R&D opportunities for cost-competitive WtE facilities:

  • Applying gasification technologies to sorted MSW to produce a syngas intermediate;
  • Lowering capital costs of next generation anaerobic digestion systems that make high-value products;
  • Converting sorted-MSW to biocrude and derivative fuels;
  • Enhancing techno-economic viability of processes for currently unrecycled plastics.

There is certainly much potential in the US for WtE projects, which are yet to gain much traction. AcuComm’s WasteView database which gives a more up-to-date perspective of the current waste environment, includes details of 231 projects in the US related to the disposal or utilisation of MSW, including 38 WtE facilities.