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Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) and the UK SRF Market

In this article, we have the latest information for you about Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) and as we are a UK-based blog while looking at the market we focus on the UK SRF Market.

If you would like to know the UK Market sectors that make and burn SRF read on!

Navigating the intricate network of waste processing and energy production from municipal solid waste (MSW) can be challenging. Very few even in the Waste Management Industry know much about SRF.

For example, did you know that Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) presents a potential solution to the extraction of heat from the remaining residual household waste (what's left over as a last resort after all possible recycling has been done)?

This blog post will define SRF before delving into the UK's SRF market, who uses it, and its role in making incineration (also known as energy from waste) as clean and green as possible in an imperfect world, as a legitimate waste management technology. A technology that during the transition to a low carbon emissions society will be:

Stick around – it's time to rethink your definition of ‘waste'!

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Key Takeaways

  • Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) is a high-quality fuel made from waste streams that can replace up to 100% of fossil fuels for energy generation in industrial boilers, cement kilns etc.
  • SRF is preferred over Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) due to its superior quality and lower contamination levels.
  • Industrial kilns are the primary users of SRF in the UK, utilizing it as a fuel source for heat generation and reducing reliance on non-renewable resources.
  • The use of SRF offers environmental benefits such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions, promoting waste management practices, and supporting renewable energy generation.
  • Take care before you brand SRF as being green! If you are not careful you may be accused of Greenwashing!

Overview of Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF)

SRF is a type of Waste Derived Fuel that is distinct from RDF and is in demand as a fuel source due to its quality specifications.

Definition of SRF

SRF stands for Solid Recovered Fuel. It is a kind of fuel made from waste streams. This fuel comes out clean after going through special treatments to make it useful. SRF can be cut into tiny pieces, less than 30mm in size.

Many businesses find SRF useful because it meets high-quality standards better than other fuels from waste, like RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel which is also made from MSW and is the residual high caloric energy fraction left at the end of MRF, ERF, and Recycling Centre processing.

Its top quality makes SRF more popular in the market and an excellent source of energy when burned.

Differences between RDF and SRF

Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) and Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) are both Waste Derived Fuels, but they significantly differ in terms of quality and specifications. Here is an at-a-glance comparison between the two:

DefinitionRDF is a fuel produced by shredding and dehydrating the high energy fraction of residual solid waste after the recyclable materials have been removed.SRF is a high-quality alternative to RDF; processed further to remove contaminants present in RDF.
QualityRDF has a lower quality and a higher variability compared to SRF due to potential contamination.SRF is more homogeneous and less contaminated, making it a superior-quality waste-derived fuel.
SizeThe size of RDF particles can vary.SRF is shredded into pieces less than 30mm in size.
UsesRDF is primarily used in waste-to-energy plants for energy recovery.SRF can replace up to 100% of fossil fuels in energy generation, making it a more versatile and sustainable fuel option.
Market DemandRDF sees less market demand due to quality variations.SRF, due to its higher quality specifications, witnesses more demand, particularly in the UK.

In conclusion, while both RDF and SRF are derived from waste streams, SRF's superior quality, and its ability to replace fossil fuels entirely at the user's point of combustion, make it an increasingly popular choice for energy producers.

But, always remember that the use of municipal and commercial waste as a fuel at all is only considered to be environmentally acceptable when used as a last resort, in accordance with the waste hierarchy.

To put it simply, applying the waste hierarchy ensures that waste materials are avoided (minimised), reused, and all recyclates are removed before the material is ever used to make RDF or SRF.

SRF is a form of renewable energy extraction, and although energy extraction is a useful thing to do, it is not merely as environmentally beneficial as any other reuse or recycling method. It is much more sustainable if better solutions can be used for this waste.

So, SRF users always need to be mindful of avoiding over-stressing the green credentials of SRF. While SRF is green, it is only “green” within closely defined limits.

Drycake Twister food waste depackaging plastics separator

A view of SRF fluff.

The UK SRF Market

The UK SRF market is experiencing significant growth due to the increasing demand for sustainable waste management solutions in Europe.

Market demand for SRF in Europe

SRF has been gaining significant market demand in Europe as a sustainable fuel source. Due to its tighter quality specifications compared to RDF, SRF is seen as a more attractive option for energy producers.

It can replace up to 100% of fossil fuels in energy generation, depending on its quality and production process. This increased demand for SRF is driven by the need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and move towards a more sustainable energy sector.

Additionally, businesses are recognizing the importance of implementing renewable energy strategies, leading to an increased interest in using SRF as an alternative fuel source.

Facilities involved in the waste management system

Facilities involved in the waste management system include:

  • Recycling centres where materials are sorted and processed for reuse.
  • Landfills where non – recyclable waste is disposed of in a controlled manner.
  • Waste-to-energy plants where solid recovered fuel (SRF) is burned to generate electricity.
  • Biomass facilities that use SRF as a renewable energy source.
  • Incinerators that burn SRF reduce the volume of waste and generate heat or electricity.

Who Burns SRF in the UK

Industrial kilns are the primary users of Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) in the UK, with their high-temperature combustion processes making them ideal for utilizing this alternative fuel source.

SRF has been used in cement kilns in the UK, in combination with traditional non-renewable fuel, for over 30 years.

Industrial kilns and their use of SRF

Industrial kilns are one of the main users of Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) in the UK. These kilns burn SRF as a fuel source to generate heat for various industrial processes. By using SRF, these kilns can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to a more sustainable energy sector.

The quality specifications of SRF make it an attractive option for industrial kilns, as it is considered a homogeneous and less contaminated fuel compared to other waste-derived fuels like RDF. SRF can be a product, as distinct from RDF which is classified as a waste. Using RDF as a fuel requires the facility operators to hold a Waste Management (IPPC) Permit with all that implies in tight regulation and fees to be paid to the Environment Agency as permit charges.

Drycake Twister food waste depackaging plastics separator

With the increasing recognition of renewable energy strategies, more business owners are turning to SRF as a viable alternative fuel for their operations.

Case study of SRF usage in Rotherham UK

In Rotherham, SRF is being used as an alternative fuel source for energy generation. This case study highlights the importance of SRF in implementing renewable energy strategies.

By replacing fossil fuels with SRF, businesses can reduce their reliance on non-renewable resources and contribute to a more sustainable energy sector. The use of SRF in North London demonstrates how waste-derived fuels can be transformed into a viable and environmentally-friendly fuel source, helping to address both waste management and energy generation challenges.

Because of its decreased CO2 emissions and positive effects on the environment, SRF is a great replacement for quickly diminishing natural fuels like petrol, coal, and oil.

Cartonboard, paper, LDPE films, cloth, rubber/tyres, and textiles are only some of the common household trash products that go into making SRF. These are items and materials that would otherwise be discarded in more expensive and scarce landfills. Since metals, glass, and rigid plastics cannot be burned and some produce very harmful pollutants when burned, Ron Hull's cutting-edge recycling system separates them apart.

Benefits and Uses of SRF

SRF offers numerous benefits and versatile uses, such as its efficient energy production capabilities and the environmental advantages it brings to waste management systems.

Energy production from SRF

SRF can be used as a fuel source to generate energy. It can replace up to 100% of fossil fuels in energy production, depending on its quality. By using SRF, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and move towards more sustainable energy sources.

Businesses are recognizing the importance of SRF in implementing renewable energy strategies. This means that instead of relying solely on coal or other non-renewable sources, we can use SRF to produce electricity and heat.

The UK SRF market is an important player in the use of solid recovered fuels for energy generation. Overall, utilizing SRF for energy production has environmental benefits and contributes to a more sustainable energy sector.

Environmental benefits of SRF

SRF offers several environmental benefits when used as a fuel source. One of the main advantages is that it can replace fossil fuels in energy generation, reducing reliance on non-renewable resources like coal and oil.

Drycake Twister food waste depackaging plastics separator

EfW from burning SRF is a very effective means of producing both energy and managing waste, and it requires minimal pre-treatment in comparison to petroleum production.

Nearly half of all trash that can't be recycled is organic and might be burned instead of fossil fuels if it were dry enough.

SRf is a readily available fuel that is highly attractive at the present moment because of the high cost of energy and the economic and political instability caused by reliance on energy supplies from abroad.

Regulations for SRF combustion are strict. The smoke must be filtered, monitored closely, and the UK has multiple failsafe air-quality regulations built in to ensure it doesn't become air pollution.

Because it is so challenging to recycle plastic, it makes for an ideal material for SRF.

By using SRF instead of fossil fuels, we can decrease greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a more sustainable energy sector. Additionally, SRF is derived from waste streams, which helps divert waste from landfills and reduces the amount of waste being buried or incinerated.

This contributes to a circular economy approach and promotes resource recovery. Overall, the use of SRF has positive environmental impacts by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting waste management practices, and supporting renewable energy generation.


In conclusion, the UK SRF market is seeing an increasing demand for solid recovered fuel as a sustainable energy source. Industrial kilns and businesses in North London are actively using SRF to replace fossil fuels in energy generation.

With its benefits of reducing reliance on non-renewable resources and its tighter quality specifications compared to RDF, SRF is becoming a key player in the shift towards a more environmentally friendly and circular economy in the UK waste management sector.

Drycake Twister food waste depackaging plastics separator


1. What is Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) and how is it used?

Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) is a type of fuel that is produced from non-hazardous waste materials, such as paper, plastics, and textiles. It can be burned in specially designed facilities to generate heat and electricity.

2. Who burns SRF in the UK?

In the UK, various industries and sectors burn Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels. This includes cement kilns, power plants, industrial boilers, and district heating systems.

3. Is burning SRF a sustainable option for energy production?

Yes, burning Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) can contribute to a more sustainable approach to energy production. It reduces reliance on fossil fuels, helps divert waste from landfills, and offers a renewable energy source.

4. Are there any environmental benefits associated with using SRF?

Using Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) instead of traditional fossil fuels can have several environmental benefits. It helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution by providing a cleaner form of energy generation while also reducing waste sent to landfill sites.

This page was first posted in October 2009, when the subject of our article was an SRF Press Release, as follows:

WRG Announcement Gives Welcome Boost to UK Solid Recovered Fuel Market

CEMEX and WRG are to join forces to make Climafuel – an SRF product.

Global building solutions provider CEMEX is forming a partnership with the Waste Recycling Group (WRG) to produce Climafuel, a renewable fuel derived from waste, for use in cement making at the Rugby cement plant.

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