Resource management company Geminor handled 1,82 million tonnes of waste in Europe last year, an increase of almost 9% from 2021. Still, this is a more modest growth than expected. “The waste industry has experienced a turbulent 2022 and is adapting to a new reality in Europe,” says CEO at Geminor, Kjetil Vikingstad.
The total tonnage handled by Geminor in 2022 ended at 1,815,281 tonnes – up from 1,670,907 tonnes in 2021. Residual waste for energy recovery (RDF/SRF) is growing by as much as 14%, accounting for more than 2/3 of the total volume handled by Geminor in Europe last year.
Waste wood for material recycling and energy recovery, the second largest fraction after RDF, fell by 4.5% last year, while cardboard and paper (RCP) fell by 21%. The tonnage of hazardous waste is still modest compared to the bigger fractions but increased last year by as much as 41%. The handling and treatment of waste plastics, which has been a focus area for Geminor and partner company Quantafuel, more than tripled in 2022 compared to the previous year.
“It is gratifying to see that we have managed to increase our volumes quite significantly from 2021. At the same time, we had expected a somewhat larger increase. A turbulent year caused by high energy prices, strong inflation, and lower business activity has led to a reduction in waste volumes and hence a new market situation,” explains Vikingstad.
Germany becomes an importing market
The political and economic changes we saw in 2022 – some of them triggered by the Russian attack on Ukraine – brought consequences for the recycling industry in all the countries where Geminor is present, says Vikingstad.
“We have had to adapt to a new reality in some of the markets in Europe. Countries such as Germany and Finland have gone from being exporting to becoming importing markets. In the UK, an increasing number of national industry players have taken a larger share of the waste volumes, leading to less export of waste resources. We have increased our tonnage in the UK by securing more national offtake in 2022,” adds Vikingstad.
“In Norway, which is our largest market, we have handled roughly the same tonnage as in 2021. Last year we experienced a more stable but competitive Norwegian market,” he says.
“The international common denominator for 2022 is a substantial increase in the competition for waste volumes in the market,” Vikingstad continues.
Growth in Southern Europe
At the same time, Geminor has increased shipments of waste resources from the surplus markets of Southern and Eastern Europe. This export and supply have assisted in balancing and stabilising the market.
“In 2022, Italy has been an important export market and secured supplies of high-demand waste resources to players in both Central Europe and the Nordics. The market in Poland also continues to develop, and we have had several deliveries of Refuse-derived Fuel (RDF) to Germany, among other countries. We have also had a good year in Denmark where we managed to increase exports significantly within waste wood,” says Vikingstad.
“If 2022 has taught us anything, it is the importance of being present in several markets. Therefore, our ambition is to contribute to developing new surplus markets, such as France, so that we can secure the supply to European offtakers in the coming years,” concludes the CEO of resource management company Geminor, Kjetil Vikingstad.