Plastic Recycling New Investment Review

In June 2021, AcuComm reported on 6 new plastic recycling projects with a cumulative value of US$744 million. These projects, in Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, are due to start operating from 2021 onwards when they will bring over 495,000 tonnes of annual recycling capacity online.

Over the 12-month period (July 2020 to June 2021),  AcuComm reported a total of 65 new plastic recycling projects with an aggregated annual capacity of over 3.1 million tonnes. The United States was the principal area of investment, accounting for 42% of the total.

Top Five Countries by Investment Value – US$mn (July 2020 to June 2021)

NIR July 2021 Plastics

Each month, AcuComm presents this headline data in its Plastic Recycling New Investment Review, one of a series of six complimentary reports which provide a strategic snapshot of the very latest activity in a specific area of the global waste and bioenergy markets.

The New Investment Review series includes:

  • Waste-to-Energy
  • Plastic Recycling
  • Waste-to-Fuel
  • Waste Processing
  • Landfill
  • AD/Biogas.

If the New Investment Review series is of interest, but feel that you need to delve deeper in order to develop your commercial strategy and marketing plans, you may wish to consider AcuComm’s Waste Market Insightsa monthly service that presents a wealth of comprehensive information including industry forecasts, historical data and insights which can be used to identify key trends across technologies, feedstocks and geographies, measured by outputs, values, capacities, volumes etc.

All the data in Waste Market Insights and the New Investment Review series derives from AcuComm’s WasteView Contract Finder, its  proprietary database of 8,500+ waste and bioenergy projects around the world.

If you would like to find out more, please contact either:

Rob / 44 (0)7399 863 765 / [email protected], or

Oliwia / 44 (0)7399 863 806 / [email protected]

Landfill New Investment Review

In May 2021, AcuComm added two new landfill projects with a cumulative value of US$17 million to its WasteView Contract Finder database. These projects, located in Australia and Russia, will provide 608,965 tonnes of new landfill capacity. Over the 12-month period (June 2020 to May 2021),  AcuComm covered a total of 42 new landfill projects, valued at over US$800 million.

Top 5 Countries by Investment in Landfill,
Reported June 2020-May 2021 (US$mn)

NIR Landfill June 2012

Each month, AcuComm presents this headline data in its Waste-to-Energy New Investment Review, one of a series of six complimentary reports which provide a strategic snapshot of the very latest activity in a specific area of the global waste and bioenergy markets.

The New Investment Review series includes:

  • Waste-to-Energy
  • Waste-to-Fuel
  • Plastic Recycling
  • Waste Processing
  • Landfill
  • AD/Biogas.

If the New Investment Review series is of interest, but feel that you need to delve deeper in order to develop your commercial strategy and marketing plans, you may wish to consider AcuComm’s Waste Market Insightsa monthly service that presents a wealth of comprehensive information including industry forecasts, historical data and insights which can be used to identify key trends across technologies, feedstocks and geographies, measured by outputs, values, capacities, volumes etc.

All the data in Waste Market Insights and the New Investment Review series derives from AcuComm’s WasteView Contract Finder, its  proprietary database of 8,500+ waste and bioenergy projects around the world.

If you would like to find out more, please contact either:

Rob / 44 (0)7399 863 765 / [email protected], or

Oliwia / 44 (0)7399 863 806 / [email protected]

AD/Biogas New Investment Review

In April 2021, AcuComm reported on 25 new AD/Biogas projects with a cumulative estimated value of US$453 million. These projects will generate an estimated total of 177 MW (or 7 MW on average at each plant) and consume almost 2.9 million tonnes of feedstock, of which 34% will be animal-derived (manure/slurry). This new activity was reported in Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, the UK and the United States.

Over the 12-month period (May 2020 to April 2021),  AcuComm reported a total of 207 new AD/Biogas projects with a total estimated investment value of US$3.9 billion.

Project Tonnage by Waste Type: 12-month period  (%)

NIR Biogas2 April 21

Top Countries by Investment Value: 12-month period (US$mn)

NIR Biogas April 21

Each month, AcuComm presents this headline data in its AD/Biogas New Investment Review, one of a series of five complimentary reports which provide a strategic snapshot of the very latest activity in a specific area of the global waste and bioenergy markets.

The New Investment Review series includes:

  • Waste-to-Energy
  • Plastic Recycling
  • Waste Processing
  • Landfill
  • AD/Biogas.

If the New Investment Review series is of interest, but feel that you need to delve deeper in order to develop your commercial strategy and marketing plans, you may wish to consider AcuComm’s Waste Market Insightsa monthly service that presents a wealth of comprehensive information including industry forecasts, historical data and insights which can be used to identify key trends across technologies, feedstocks and geographies, measured by outputs, values, capacities, volumes etc.

All the data in Waste Market Insights and the New Investment Review series derives from AcuComm’s WasteView Contract Finder, its  proprietary database of 8,500+ waste and bioenergy projects around the world.

If you would like to find out more, please contact either:

Rob / 44 (0)7399 863 765 / [email protected], or

Oliwia / 44 (0)7399 863 806 / [email protected]

New Investment Review: Landfill

In March 2021, AcuComm added five new landfill projects with a cumulative value of US$55 million to its WasteView Contract Finder database. These projects, located in Brazil, Spain, Ukraine and the United States, will provide 140,000 tonnes of new landfill capacity by 2024. Over the 12-month period (April 2020 to March 2021),  AcuComm covered a total of 48 new landfill projects, valued at over US$1 billion.

Top 5 Countries by Investment in Landfill,
Reported April 2020-March 2021 (US$mn)

NIR Landfill March 21

Each month, AcuComm presents this headline data in its Waste-to-Energy New Investment Review, one of a series of five complimentary reports which provide a strategic snapshot of the very latest activity in a specific area of the global waste and bioenergy markets.

The New Investment Review series includes:

  • Waste-to-Energy
  • Plastic Recycling
  • Waste Processing
  • Landfill
  • AD/Biogas.

If the New Investment Review series is of interest, but feel that you need to delve deeper in order to develop your commercial strategy and marketing plans, you may wish to consider AcuComm’s Waste Market Insightsa monthly service that presents a wealth of comprehensive information including industry forecasts, historical data and insights which can be used to identify key trends across technologies, feedstocks and geographies, measured by outputs, values, capacities, volumes etc.

All the data in Waste Market Insights and the New Investment Review series derives from AcuComm’s WasteView Contract Finder, its  proprietary database of 8,500+ waste and bioenergy projects around the world.

If you would like to find out more, please contact either:

Rob / 44 (0)7399 863 765 / [email protected], or

Oliwia / 44 (0)7399 863 806 / [email protected]

Plastic waste exports, problem and opportunity

In March 2021, the New York Times ran a story highlighting the continuing controversy surrounding the shipment of waste plastics, especially to developing countries which may not have the capacity to deal with such shipments in an environmentally-acceptable manner. This brief article looks at some longer term trends surrounding plastic waste exporting, both in the US and in the wider world. It ends with some good news; in 2020, new investment in plastic waste recycling facilities was over US$900 million, and interest continues to rise.

US exports of waste plastics peaked at US$72 million in June 2016, but the overall trend has been downward – if unevenly so – at least until mid-2020. The average monthly value in 2020 was US$19 million, compared with US$61 million in 2016. The US$18 million figure for January 2021 was therefore below the average for 2020, although it was indeed slightly higher than the US$17 million figure posted a year earlier in January 2020.

It’s tempting to see the small uptick in exports seen in the second half of 2020 as COVID-19 related, at least in part. Domestic recycling activities have been seriously affected by the pandemic and it is not unreasonable to assume that this has resulted in a greater amount being exported. But it’s too early to say with any certainty how great this effect has been, or indeed how permanent it is. The graph below shows the downward trend is far from linear, and the current level is after all below that of a year ago.

Andy - US Plastic 1

The above graph also shows the value of waste plastic exports to China and Hong Kong since 2016. Prior to 2018, these shipments accounted for the bulk of US waste plastic exports. The Chinese government banned the trade in 2018, but the value was falling sharply from mid-2017 in anticipation. For much of the past year the figure has been negligible.

So where has the US been sending its plastic waste since 2017, if not to China? For the full12 months of 2020, Canada was the leading destination, accounting for US$59 million or 26% of the total. Mexico was third with US$23 million, or 10%. Aside from these NAFTA partners, other destinations in Asia have taken China’s place. Principally Malaysia, but also Vietnam, India and Indonesia. Trade in waste plastics is not popular in any of these countries, and other destinations are being sought as regulations are tightened.

Andy - US Plastic 2

A global, not just a US, problem…

Exporting of waste plastics is far from a US-only issue, of course. Many other developed countries saw a surge in exports over the past decade. While this is being reduced by the Basle provisions, the trade remains widespread. In 2020, the US exported around US$225 million, but this was only the third-highest figure. Germany and Japan led the way with US$291 million and US$288 million respectively. The UK was fourth with US$119 million and France fifth with US$112 million. Malaysia and Turkey were among the leading destination countries, although it should also be noted that the leading importer overall was the USA.

Andy - US Plastic 3

Global trade in waste plastic has diminished since 2016 when it stood at US$6.6 billion. But at US$2.8 billion in 2020 it remains substantial. There’s perhaps nothing terribly wrong in principle with this trade, but the key question is disposal. Do destination countries  – or more specifically the companies doing the importing – have adequate facilities for dealing with plastic waste? Or, as has been seen in China and elsewhere, is waste incinerated or simply dumped, to find its way into the world’s rivers and oceans? This shouldn’t be seen as a state of affairs to be blamed on the developing world. Indeed, the fact that there is still money to be made from exports indicates that developed countries have so far failed to create the necessary sorting and recycling infrastructure closer to home.

….but also an investment opportunity

As environmental and regulatory pressure increases, the waste plastic recycling sector is increasingly gaining the attention of planners and investors. In the last 12 months (Mar 20 to Feb 21), AcuComm reported on 51 new plastic recycling projects, worth US$907 million in total, or US$18 million on average. Europe, Asia and the Americas were the principal areas of investment, with the USA, UK, Korea, Belgium and Germany the leading countries in terms of investment value.

Andy - US Plastic 4

Plastic recycling projects typically have a relatively short development schedule, and can be up and running quickly. Around 30% of projects are either operational or due to become so in 2021.

Andy - US Plastic 5

 

A Growing Canadian Presence in the US Waste Sector

Canada’s GFL Environmental, which entered the US solid waste sector in 2016 and has established itself as the market’s 4th largest player, has been named as the buyer of “substantially all anticipated divestitures” which will occur following Waste Management Inc’s US$4.6 billion acquisition of Advanced Disposal Services.

GFL will pay US$835 million for a package of assets which will include 32 collection operations, 36 transfer stations and 18 landfills supported by 380 collection vehicles across 10 states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Georgia, with Illinois, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana and Minnesota touted as the other likely locations. GFL has a positive record of working with Waste Management and as part of the deal, Waste Management also announced a “reciprocal five-year disposal arrangement” with GFL. The deal is expected to be finalised by the end of Q3 2020, pending approval from the US Department of Justice.

Waste Management’s acquisition of Advanced Disposal was announced in April 2019 when Advanced Disposal was serving more than three million residential, commercial, and industrial customers, including over 800 municipalities primarily in 16 states in the Eastern half of the US. Advanced Disposal’s solid waste network includes 94 collection operations, 73 transfer stations, 41 landfills, and 22 owned or operated recycling facilities.

AcuComm’s WasteView database has details of over 20 current and operational waste projects involving Waste Management Inc, Advanced Disposal Services or GFL Environmental, including Waste Management’s planned expansion of a landfill in Monticello, White County, Indiana.

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.

Fast Growth, Rising Waste Investment

Waste investments can be found in all sorts of places you might not expect. While the bulk of attention naturally focuses on the major developed economies, it may pay to glance occasionally elsewhere. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently released its latest economic GDP forecasts. The top fastest-growing countries for the 2019-2024 period are listed in the chart below, ranked by the value of new waste sector investment, as reported in the AcuComm database.

Almost all of these countries are classed as developing economies, with some still at a very low level of economic development. It’s only natural that these should register the highest growth levels. What’s perhaps more surprising is the amount of waste and related investment there is. Out of the top 25 countries, 17 have at least one project either in the planning or construction stage. There are 566 in total, valued at US$48.1 billion; a considerable sum of money.

Newsletter chart wk 15

China dominates the list with US$34.0 billion, around 71% of the value. While China’s GDP growth is slowing a little, the waste management sector remains huge, both in terms of its current size and potential. India, in second place, is faster-growing but at a lower level of development. Nevertheless, new waste projects in India are estimated at US$6.2 billion. Other countries where AcuComm lists new investments over US$500 million are the Philippines, Vietnam, Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda and Ivory Coast.

There’s activity further down the list too. One recent example is Bhutan, where a comprehensive clinical waste programme was announced in January 2019, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Another is Uganda, where an anaerobic digestion plant at a sewage facility in Kampala neared completion in December 2018. Projects like this are not particularly large, but all need construction/engineering expertise and equipment, all of which will need to be imported.

Projects in developing countries often involve external funding agencies, such as the aforementioned ADB or its compatriot the African Development Bank (AfDB). The European Union is involved through a number of bodies, principally the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EIB is generally, though not exclusively, active in supporting projects in the less-well-off parts of Europe, whether in or out of the European Union. Recent part-funded projects include the establishment of new WtE, landfill and recycling facilities in Serbia, modern landfill in Armenia, and improvement of landfill and waste management expertise in Kyrgyzstan. You can see the full list here.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is an even bigger lender. AcuComm lists around 100 projects with EBRD involvement. It is not an EU agency, although it sometimes works in tandem with the EIB. It tends to concentrate on supporting projects in eastern Europe and the former USSR, often in countries or regions with little prior experience of modern waste management.

Working in developing countries attracts risk, of course, and it is likely that not all the projects in the table above will come to fruition. Reliable funding is an issue, but there are challenges to be overcome even when cash is provided by an external donor. Bureaucracy is one, when dealing with funding agencies and local government agencies alike. Developing countries are less likely to have had time to establish the management structures and experience needed to progress a major project, and indeed strengthening such capacity is often a key element of donor-funded projects. A country’s climate or power/water infrastructure may present challenges not found in western Europe or north America. Finally, there can be political difficulties regarding the sustainability or even the desirability of major investments in developing countries.

And yet… for all that, US$48.1 billion is a lot of money. It’s a sign that attention is being paid to global opportunities, as countries grow wealthier, and in need of – and able to afford – modern waste infrastructure.

#Editor’sPick – WtE & Biofuel Plants

Australia – WtE Plant

Construction of a WtE plant

On 8th March, construction officially began on the site of a new waste-to-energy (WtE) plant in Kwinana, Perth, which will be operated by Veolia.

The facility will incorporate two full automated furnaces or lines and will recover energy from 400,000 tonnes of municipal, commercial and industrial waste each year. It will also recover recyclable materials that otherwise would have gone to landfill and convert residual ash into by-products such as bricks or road aggregate.

See the full details of this project.

Paraguay – Biofuel Plant

Construction of an US$800 million biofuel plant

The ECB Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Paraguayan government that will allow the company to continue its investment in the country.

As part of the agreement, a new complex known as Omega Green will be developed to house the first second-generation renewable fuels plant in the Southern Hemisphere. The facility will produce renewable diesel and kerosene for civil and military aviation from feedstock such as soybean or cooking oil.

Catch up on the latest from this project.

VTT develops new gasification technique

The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a new technique based on gasification, which offers a sustainable solution to turn forestry industry waste, such as bark, sawdust and prunings, into transport fuels and chemicals. The new technique reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 90% compared to fossil fuels.

VTT is using gasification to turn biomass into intermediate products – liquid hydrocarbons, methanol or methane – in production units integrated with communal district heating plants or forest industry power plants. The intermediate products are then processed further in oil refineries to make renewable fuels or chemicals.

VTT developed and piloted the new gasification process and evaluated the competitiveness of plants in the course of a project called BTL2030 which concluded in October 2018. The distributed generation process developed makes efficient use of the energy content of biomass. Approximately 55% of the energy content is turned into transport fuels and a further 20–25% can be used to provide district heating or to produce steam for industrial processes.

The process is based on VTT’s low-pressure, low-temperature steam gasification technology, simplified gas purification and small-scale industrial syntheses. Thanks to the small-scale approach, the heat generated by the process can be used throughout the year, and the process can be fuelled with local waste. Finland’s previous plans have involved considerably larger gasification-based diesel plants, the raw material demands of which could not have been satisfied with locally sourced waste. Moreover, it would have been impossible to make full use of the by-product heat of the large plants, and their energy efficiency would have therefore been easily less than 60%.

According to VTT’s Senior Principal Scientist Esa Kurkela “Not one of the large gasification plants of more than 300 MW that have been planned for Europe has been built yet. The almost €1 billion investment needed together with the risks associated with new technology has proven an insurmountable obstacle. The smaller scale of our solution makes it easier to secure funding for building the first plant based on the new technology”.

The BTL2030 project team estimates that the production costs of transport fuels made from domestic waste would amount to €0.8–1 per litre of petrol or diesel. The new technology is set to become considerably more competitive as the costs of the raw materials of competing technologies increase, and the process is expected to be highly competitive at least from the year 2030 onwards.

Experts estimate that, in addition to other measures, Finland will need sustainable biofuels to account for 30% of the energy consumption of the transport sector by 2030. Supplying half of this demand with domestic waste would require 5–10 locally integrated energy production plants. The 3.6% target set for advanced biofuels in the European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED2) equates to 11 million tonnes of oil, which would mean approximately 200 gasification plants in Europe alone.

In addition to transport fuels, the biomass gasification technique can be used to produce renewable raw materials to replace oil and natural gas in various chemical industry processes. Synthesis gas applications, on the other hand, could help in the attainment of several circular economy goals, such as close-loop recycling of plastics and other packaging materials.

The development of gasification technology is set to continue through two EU Horizon 2020 projects co-ordinated by VTT. The projects focus on gas purification and increasing the efficiency of synthesis technology and aim to demonstrate the performance of the entire biofuel chain at VTT’s Bioruukki piloting centre in Espoo, Finland. Another solution under development is a flexible hybrid process based on biomass and solar and wind energy, which can either be run on just biomass or be boosted with electrolysis. This provides an efficient way to store solar or wind energy as a renewable fuel and could as much as double the renewable fuel output of the biomass sources available.

biomass gas in Europe 2019

Biomass gasification projects in Europe by MW capacity. Source: AcuComm database.

The BTL2030 project partners were: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Fortum, Gasum, Helen Oy, Kumera, Gasification Technologies, Brynolf Grönmark, ÅF-Consult, Woikoski, Dasos Capital, Kokkolanseudun Kehitys and MOL Group.