The RDF Supply Chain

The RDF supply chain includes the production of RDF, its pre-treatment, transportation, storage, loading, export, unloading, and its treatment at an energy-from waste facility. The stages in this supply chain are shown and explained below.

Stage 1  – Waste Arrives At Waste Transfer Station

The supply chain begins with the arrival of mixed residual waste at a waste transfer station. This may be a pre-treatment facility, a residual materials recovery facility (MRF) or simply a site at which waste is collected before onward transportation to one of the former.

Stage 2 – Pre Treatment Of Waste

RDF producers undertake pre-treatment of mixed waste to produce RDF. The industry currently pre-treats mixed waste in a number of different ways, using a range of different physical, thermal, chemical and/or biological processes. Pre-treatment changes the characteristics of the waste to make it easier and safer to handle and transport, as well as making it perform better as a fuel.

Stage 3 – Preparation For Transport

Once pre-treated, RDF is prepared for transportation to its destination. The RDF may be baled and wrapped, or put into shipping containers. This will depend on the preferences of the supply chain and the relevant environmental regulators.

Stage 4 – Storage

RDF may be stored before it is transported, or at one or more stages along the supply chain. Storage may be required in order to collect enough RDF in one place before a shipment can take place.

Stage 5 – Transportation

RDF may be transported to a domestic treatment facility, or to an overseas treatment facility that meets the European efficiency standard. RDF is transported between waste transfer stations, ports and the treatment facility by road, rail and/or sea.

Stage 6 – Loading

RDF is loaded onto the vehicle used for export. Export of RDF can take place by road, rail or ship, the majority of internationally exported RDF travels by ship.

Stage 7 – Export

The shipment method chosen for RDF export must be safe, legal and suitable for the material and its destination.

Stage 8 – Unloading

Unloading occurs at different points in the supply chain depending on the exact logistics of the export process.

Stage 9 – Transportation

Once in the destination country, RDF is transported from the receiving port to the energy-from-waste facility by road or rail.

Stage 10 – Further Pre-Treatment

RDF may undergo further pre-treatment before it is treated in the energy-from-waste facility.

Stage 11 – Received At Treatment Facility

The RDF is treated to generate electricity and, in many cases, also heat.  Some energy-from-waste facilities provide heat to industry or to nearby buildings and homes through district heating networks.

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