Refuse Derived Fuel


As well as traditional recycling methods, commercial waste can be used to create a renewable energy source known as refuse-derived fuel (RDF). This allows waste produced by your business to be used to generate electricity, heat and other forms of energy and is often known as the energy from waste (EFW) process.

What is refuse-derived fuel?

RDF is a fuel source produced from both commercial and domestic waste, including plastics and biodegradable materials. This fuel is then used as an alternative to fossil fuels in power plants, producing electricity, hot water and more for communal systems across Europe whilst ensuring all waste is being used in the most effective manner possible.

The advantages of RDF

Converting waste to energy has a number of positive commercial and environmental impacts.The most visible of which will be the direct impact it has on the finances of your business.

Sending waste to landfill has become increasingly expensive in recent years, and this only promises to increase alongside the focus on watching your environmental impact. Taking advantage of the opportunity to send your waste to waste-to-energy plants helps decrease your waste management costs, ensuring your business is operating as efficiently as possible.

Using your waste material to produce energy also has a positive impact on the environment, ensuring you’re playing a role in saving the planet and boosting the green credentials of your business.

Alternative fuels such as RDF reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, whose negative environmental impact is well-publicised. This has a direct impact on reducing global carbon emissions and moving to a future focused on renewable energy.

The process of converting waste to energy

The energy from waste process can take a number of forms, including:

  • Using waste to energy incinerators. This process involves mixing and shredding the waste before burning it at temperatures over 850°C. The waste is moved to a combustion chamber where oxygen is added and the heat is used to create steam. Steam is then used to generate electricity and provide heat to the local area
  • Gasification and pyrolysis. This heats the fuel with minimal oxygen to produce syngas, which can be used to generate energy or as feedstock for producing methane, chemicals, biofuels or hydrogen
  • Anaerobic digestion, which uses microorganisms to convert organic waste into a methane-rich biogas. The biogas can then be combusted to generate electricity or heat. Most commonly used for food waste, this process has the additional benefit of producing biofertiliser.

Each of these processes comes with its own advantages and will be used in different circumstances, depending on the type of waste and which method is most effective.

What waste products can be used?

Unlike other methods of recycling, the process of creating RDF allows for the processing of a wide range of materials. This includes non-recyclable plastics, paper, card, organic waste and more.

Having the ability to process such a wide range of materials brings huge benefits to RDF recycling compared to alternative processes, ensuring materials which traditionally end up in landfill can be used.

In short, adding RDF efforts into your waste management strategy will ensure you’re able to recycle more of your business waste than ever before, improving your efficiency and further reducing your environmental impact.

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