ECOS joins international standardisation on Solid Recovered Fuels

wasterecyclingCEN recently decided to shift its work programme related to Solid Recovered Fuels (SRFs), undertaken by CEN Technical Committee (TC) 343, to an international level under ISO/TC 300 and let ISO lead on future developments, under the Vienna agreement. This change required ECOS to formally apply for liaison with ISO/TC 300, in order to continue taking an active part in the standardisation work on SRFs. The request was accepted mid-October 2016.

SRFs are solid fuels prepared from non-hazardous waste to be utilised for energy recovery in incineration or co-incineration plants. ECOS has long advocated for standardisation to help ensure that waste used as SRFs is of high quality, providing a positive energy contribution within the chosen combustion process, while minimising pollutant emissions.

While the work programme of ISO/TC 300 has yet to be confirmed, CEN/TC 343 has already proposed four New Work Items to be tackled internationally, including European standard EN 15359 setting specifications and classes for SRFs and its adoption as an international standard.

In 2011, ECOS unsuccessfully appealed against the ratification of EN 15359. In addition to insufficient cut-off criteria for Mercury (Hg) content, the standard failed to include specifications for other heavy metals, such as Cadmium and Thallium, and allowed for a Chlorine content as high as 3%, a level which may potentially contribute to the formation of dioxins and furans. Moreover, as it stands, the standard allows to qualify waste as a “standardised fuel” even if it hardly burns and increases the emission of pollutants to air and ash(es).

As stated in ECOS’ appeal, we believe that EN 15359 failed to respond to the requirements of the Commission’ standardisation request M/325 and that it does not effectively support the environmental protection level foreseen by the EU Directive on the Incineration of Waste (Directive 2000/76/EC).

The ever-growing trend towards the internationalisation of European standardisation work is based on, among others, the belief that state of the art expertise lies at international level. If true, the possible adoption of EN 15359 as a new work item under ISO/TC 300 presents a good opportunity to address the shortcomings of the standard and to ensure the development of a new, environmentally sound and robust standard for Solid Recovered Fuels.

Image credit: www.eaem.co.uk