Waste Project in Belarus

The World Bank is to provide €90 million to Belarus to finance the Belarus Utility Efficiency and Quality Improvement Project which will support improvements to the country’s solid waste and wastewater programmes.

The project will pilot a regional approach to solid waste management, which includes construction of the Polotsk/Novopolotsk Regional Landfill and similar facilities in other towns across the country. New landfills will replace existing mini-landfills that have no environmental controls, to ensure the safe disposal of solid waste. In addition, several studies will be undertaken on the development of the waste management sector, along with public communications campaigns to raise environmental awareness.

The World Bank has previous experience in supporting the modernisation of waste management in Belarus. In 2017, its US$48 million Integrated Solid Waste Management Project in Belarus drew to a close, having successfully established a 120,000 tpa MRF in Grodno. The lead contractor was China Machinery Engineering Corporation.

AcuComm currently lists 24 active waste, recycling and bioenergy projects in Belarus, worth a total of US$1,262 million. The largest is a proposed waste incinerator in Minsk, which would have annual capacity of 500,000 tonnes when built.

Who are the operators?

A lot of attention gets paid to companies supplying waste plant equipment, or contractors working on plant construction. Rightly so. But what about the operators, the companies which often sponsor projects and manage their operations once complete?

In the municipal waste field, AcuComm currently lists 126 companies operating WtE facilities. Looking at where they are based helps answer two key questions for anyone analysing the industry; one, where is WtE most prominent?, and two, which companies are seeking to operate these facilities on a long term basis?

The UK leads the field, with 29 operators. This is followed by Japan with 20, Germany with 14 and Sweden/China with seven each. This makes sense; all four countries are widespread adopters of WtE as a means of dealing with waste. The UK heads the field rather than, say Germany, since the UK has been the centre of attention for new investment in recent years. German WtE plants tend to be more established. China, in contrast, has a high level of investment in WtE currently, but only a relatively small number of operator companies are involved there. At the other end of the scale, the USA barely registers; again, this is to be expected as the US is not currently a major base for WtE investment.

Don’t forget, at AcuComm we’re not covering the total installed base of a country’s waste management capacity. Rather, we’re looking at something hopefully more interesting; where is investment going now and in the near future.

Who are the leading operators identified in the UK? SUEZ Recycling and Recovery is the leading individual player, followed by Viridor, FCC Environment and SITA UK. The most recent project for SUEZ is a planned £300 million facility in Darwen, Lancashire. A planning decision for the project is due this summer; see the AcuComm project listing here for details.

#Editor’sPicks – Plastics Recycling & Resource Recovery

Thailand – Recycling Facility

Construction of a plastics recycling plant.

SUEZ is building a recycling plant that will convert plastic waste into circular polymers, in Bang Phli district, near Bangkok. SUEZ told AcuComm that construction started in mid-May and work is expected to be completed by mid-2020. The plant will convert 30,000 tpa of polyethylene film waste into high-quality post-consumer recycled plastic.

Catch up on the latest from this project.

US – Resource Recovery & Ash Recycling Facility

Development of a Resource Recovery Centre & Ash Recycling Facility

York County Solid Waste Authority has completed a US$100 million site improvement project at the York County Resource Recovery Center in Manchester Township, PA, and the start-up of a new Ash Recycling and Processing Facility.

Find out more about this project.

UK aluminium recycling rate rises

The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro), the industry funded, not-for-profit organisation which represents the UK’s aluminium packaging industry has revealed that the UK aluminium drinks can recycling rate has risen to 75%, its highest ever level, up from 54% in 2010.  Additionally, 95% of aluminium packaging collected in the UK is recycled within Europe, rather than being sent further afield. With sustainability becoming more and more important, the drinks can remains the most recycled packaging in the world.

The overall aluminium packaging rate has continued to rise steadily too, from 41% in 2010 to 52% in 2018, meaning that over 100,000 tonnes of aluminium packaging sold in the UK was recycled last year.

These significant improvements in UK aluminium recycling rates is attributed to the investment made by the aluminium sector as a whole to ensure that the packaging they produce is recycled.

Alupro believes that its programmes, such as MetalMatters and Every Can Counts, are positively impacting the behaviour of people across the UK by creating awareness of the recyclability of aluminium and metal packaging.

The government is currently consulting on reform to the producer responsibility system, which could lead to more accurate reporting of recycling rates.  A significant volume of used aluminium packaging is being recycled from refuse-derived fuel outside the UK, but not currently being officially recorded towards UK targets.  This means the latest impressive rates are still underreported, and future recycling rates for aluminium packaging will be even higher under these reforms.

AcuComm currently lists around 138 active projects worldwide which deal in some way with the recycling of aluminium. 60 of these are in the USA, while 13 are in Germany. The UK is in third place globally with ten active projects.


Recycling Round-Up

Of late, plastics recycling has rightly taken centre stage in the attention of the media. But, while the issue of waste plastic has risen to the top of the environmental agenda, it’s far from the only specialist form of recycling to attract industry interest. So I took a look to see what other forms of recycling are rising in prominence, and where. There’s a range of investment in other interesting areas of recycling.

AcuComm currently has 450 active recycling projects which deal with some form of specialised municipal waste. Plastics are in the lead, with 157 projects. These are valued at US$3,076 million, or just under US$20 million each on average.


In second place is metal recycling. AcuComm has 125 of these, valued at US$5,280 million. This makes them larger on average than plastics facilities, at US$42 million apiece. Metal recycling facilities cover a range of activities, from basic automobile recyclers to specialist facilities dealing with recovery of metals and even specific metal types from general waste.

The largest number are in the Americas, principally the USA, where we have 53 projects worth US$1,886 million, or US$36 million on average. There are 43 projects in Europe; Germany is the leading individual country with 12 (US$714 million or US$60 million each), followed by the UK with seven (US$198 million or US$28 million each). There are relatively few projects in Africa, Asia or the Middle East, but some important individual investments occur all over the world. For example, the most recent is a lead recycling facility which opened in Tanzania in April 2019.

Also of interest is the related field of e-waste recycling. The AcuComm database contains 65 active e-waste projects in 26 countries. These are worth US$1,069 million in total, or US$16 million on average. As for metals, the largest number are in the USA at 22, followed by the UK with six and the UAE with three. The newest is in Belgium, where a proposed plant for the development of a plant for recycling technical polymers from e-waste received public funding in May 2019.

Next is rubber. AcuComm lists 44 rubber recycling plants, worth a total of US$1,050 million or US$24 million each. Again, most are in the Americas or Europe. These deal almost exclusively with the recycling of used automobile tyres. The most recent is a proposed facility in Queensland, Australia, which will have capacity to process 700,000 car and truck tyres a year.

AcuComm currently lists 29 paper recycling projects, worth US$1,599 million in total. Some of these are relatively large, making for an average of US$55 million. Again, the USA predominates with ten projects, followed by the UK with five. The most recent new project is a paper recycling system in Oslo, Norway, due to open in 2019.

Finally, glass recycling accounts for 30 projects, worth US$452 million. This is equal to a relatively low US$15 million on average; this is largely attributable to several projects in our database which comprise small upgrades to existing facilities. Around half of glass recycling projects are in the USA or the UK.

#Editor’sPick – Plastics Recycling & Biogas

UK – Recycling Facility

Development of a plastics recycling plant.

Pennon Group, the parent company of Viridor, has announced a project to build the UK’s biggest multi-polymer plastic recycling plant. The facility will harness the electricity created from non-recyclable waste at Viridor’s energy recovery facility at Avonmouth.

Catch up on the latest from this project.

US – Resource Recovery & Bioenergy Facility

Water Resource Recovery Bio-Energy Project

Groundbreaking takes place for development of a water resource recovery facility under Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s US$262 million Piscataway Water Resource Recovery Facility Bio-Energy Project in Piscataway, MD. The project will convert wastewater biosolids into biogas, which will then be used by CHP engines to help power the facility.

Find out more about this project.

UK Contracts for Difference

On 29th May, the UK launched its third Contracts for Difference (CfD) round under which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will offer £65 million to support up to 6GW of new renewable energy capacity, enough to power around 350,000 homes each year.

This third round of funding is open to anaerobic digestion projects greater than 5 MW, dedicated biomass CHP projects and advanced conversion technology projects, as well as other renewable technologies such as wind, geothermal and tidal.

Registration closes on 18th June and winning bidders will be due to start contributing power to the grid from 2023/2024.

Around 10 GW of renewable power projects have been awarded CfD contracts since 2015, with more than £490 million having been spent to date. The UK Government is aiming for 70% of electricity to come from low carbon sources by 2030.

The first round of CfD contracts was awarded in 2015. There were five in the waste/biomass sectors, totalling 157 MW. None are as yet operational. The most advanced is the Energy Works facility at Hull, although this has been plagued with construction difficulties and delays; the main contractor was replaced in March 2019 and it is currently uncertain when the plant will open. The other four projects are at even earlier stages of development.

The second round of contracts, issued in 2017, appears to have fared even worse. Eight projects in the waste and biomass sectors were selected, but most appear to have fallen away due to planning or funding difficulties. It remains to be seen whether any are operational on schedule in 2021/22.


An end to grand projects in the UK?

The funding landscape for large waste projects in the UK has altered in the past few years. In 2015, the government stepped back from funding new ventures in the waste sector, citing satisfactory progress in the reduction of the amount of waste going to landfill. According to the Treasury’s National Infrastructure Development Plan 2016-2021:

England is currently on track to meet the existing landfill diversion 2020 targets. As such the government is not currently planning to fund any new waste infrastructure projects beyond those already in the Pipeline. (p.64)

This Pipeline consists of four government-funded projects, as of February 2019. Three are currently under construction, while one has to have a public funding figure confirmed. The largest is the new WtE facility in Sutton, south London. This has a total public funding commitment of £191.1 million, although most of this has already been spent; the final tranche of £20 million is slated for 2018/19. The only ongoing government funding commitment for 2019/20 is a WtE plant in Gloucestershire. This is due to be fully operational in mid-2019. It received £50 million in 2018/19 and will receive a final £25 million in 2019/20. The third project (and only remaining PFI deal) is a gasification and anaerobic digestion facility in Shepperton, Surrey. At the time of writing, this is partially operational and due to come fully on stream later in 2019. It has received £102.2 million from government, the last being £8.9 million in 2018/19.

The one proposed funding project is a new WtE plant in Hoddeston, Hertfordshire. This was first announced by Veolia and Hertfordshire County Council in 2016, but work has been delayed by planning difficulties. As of May 2019, the government had yet to make a decision regarding it.

The government is not backing out of the sector altogether, of course; see Ian’s article this week on the CfD scheme, which continues to establish a government-backed minimum tariff for electricity generated by selected sites, albeit with limited success so far. But the level of central government investment is undeniably lower. Contrast the 2016 document with the 2010 National Infrastructure Plan, which talked about over 30 waste sector projects to receive funding:

In order to meet EU landfill diversion targets the Government will continue to support a programme of 21 contracted waste PFI projects and 11 projects still in procurement, at an estimated cost of £95 million in 2014-15 and £120 million a year from 2017-18. (p.36)

This could of course change back – who knows who will be running the UK Treasury in a few months’ time – but for the time being at least, the PFI/PPP pipeline is pretty much dry.

It would be wrong, however, to think that the UK market is drying up totally. It’s probably fair to say that the government’s focus has been on London and the south, but there’s plenty of private interest across the country. In 2019 so far, AcuComm has reported on seven new WtE plants planned across the UK. If all are built, these would generate around 210 MW of electricity and have a waste thoughput of 2.8 million tonnes per year. That is perhaps a big if; only one of those is currently under construction; a relatively small plant in Royal Wootton Bassett.

The most recent plan to be announced highlights some of the uncertainties. A new 410,000 tonne per year WtE facility is being mooted by Wheelabrator for Leeds, on the site of the former Skelton Grange power station. But it’s not wholly new. Biffa originally proposed such a plant in 2011, but the project was shelved in 2015. Wheelabrator has increased the size of the plant from Biffa’s proposed 300,000 tonnes, and hopes to reach financial close in 2020.

Where should investors and suppliers look, therefore? It may well be that smaller projects – such as the one in Wootton Bassett – offer a more certain return as investment shifts to the riskier private sector. If this trend continues it may well be that the UK is heading for a focus on more local and sustainable solutions rather than grand projects which can all too easily fall foul of planning, construction and – perhaps now – greater funding problems.

The map below shows all the currently-planned WtE facilities in the UK, as held in the AcuComm database. How many will make it? Click here to explore them all online.


Currently Trending: Biofuel, Plastics Recycling & Biomass.

US$2,686 million worth of projects were covered by our researchers last week, including 16 new projects and 20 updates.

The top waste trends included:

  • Aviation fuel projects – including Europe’s first dedicated plant for the production of sustainable aviation fuel, bioLPG and naphtha in Delfzijl.
  • Plastic  recycling in Europe – including six innovative projects selected for government backing in Wallonie.
  • Biomass in Brazil – including a new biomass boiler for a pulp plant in Ortigueira, Paraná.

Click on the above trends to access a real-time project search in the AcuComm database.