Posted on: 5th Nov 2021
How Covid has Changed the Composition and Economics of Alternative Fuels
In September Mark Terrell presented at the annual Cemfuels virtual event. Mark shared insight into the industry and discussed issues about “How Covid has changed the composition and economics of alternative fuels”.
Over the last 5 years the world has seen many problems thrown its way, however the two most prominent in 2020 and 2021 have been the impacts of Covid and Brexit. These two issues have individually put a strain on the movement of waste in the UK, but with combined forces have had massive implications, particularly surrounding transport, waste volumes and composition. Andusia are making relevant changes within our supply chain to manage these issues to keep our customers supplied on time with the right material.
Mark spoke about how these factors have changed the waste and alternative fuels market over the past 18 months, and discusses our approach to tackle them.
Transport has been dramatically affected by Covid. It’s well-known that the UK is struggling with a shortage of drivers, and this is proving to be the ‘toughest challenge yet’. With self-isolation and covid levels reaching new records, the ‘pingdemic’ was in full force and affecting waste management strategies.
One of the strongest factors causing transport dilemmas is the number of HGV drivers. Many drivers have left the industry reporting a shortage of approximately 100,000 drivers according to the Road Haulage Association, meaning many were struggling to meet fleet requirements.
Alongside this, a backlog in HGV driver licence testing was contributing to the unprecedented shortage of drivers due to fewer licences being issued than normal. All combined, delays were caused and cancellations to collections were made across the country.
Transport was also impacted by many Brexit pressures. With additional paperwork required, this led to reduced availability of workers/qualified drivers, but with an influx of customs requirement due to less trade with the EU and changes in legislation.
Volumes and Composition
Over the past 18-months waste volumes have fluctuated. We saw a general decrease due to the downturn in economic activity, where staying home produced less waste than purchasing plastic covered convenience food when out and about. Nonetheless, construction and demolition waste remained constant as many turned to home improvements throughout the lockdowns.
Waste production has shifted from industry and commercial centres to residential areas. With the increase in packaging waste from online deliveries, combined with food and glass waste from municipal settings, has resulted in more requirements for residential collections and waste disposal strategies. The increased need for clinical disposal due to COVID waste such as face masks and all other PPE has significantly increased, more so than previous years.
Some of the changes experienced will remain, such as the dependency on Amazon deliveries, the ease of online shopping, alongside the development of a contactless and cashless society. As people grew fans of eating in and finding a new favourite takeaway, an indication for the composition of waste to return to pre-covid compostion is uncertain, so are these changes here to stay?
Transport is currently in question for many waste organisations. With shortages of drivers, increased difficulty and increasing expenses are topic of conversation for many waste companies. Andusia have seen great benefits in bulk shipping to manage the shortages, however, the future is slightly unknown and being watched very closely.
Threats and Opportunities
The threats include continued disruption to the supply chain for at least the next 12 months as we experience an ongoing shortage of drivers, and the world tries to restore a new ‘normal’. There is nervousness surrounding any future lockdowns or regulation changes which could trigger more uncertainty. Threats are also on the developing world outside of the EU and how this will affect future economic output.
However, every cloud has a silver lining, and the waste industry has seen many. The composition changes have resulted in a dryer waste source, thus resulting in a higher calorific value. We have seen an increase in available plastics, which leads to more fuels for the cement industry. Considered most important, the industry collectively has built great resilience for any future events- bring it on!
What have we been doing?
With all this in mind, Andusia have been reactive and made the necessary changes. We have introduced new routes and methods of transportation to minimise delays. We’ve discovered new waste streams and have been working with our suppliers to refine waste quality. Finally, we have been widening our source pool finding new markets to generate waste.
Contact us today to on 01992 666257 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your SRF and RDF requirements.