Producing RDF in Russia

2022-10-22 20:26:20 By : Mr. Yan LIU

The Kaluga Plant for the Production of Alternative Fuels (KZPAT), launched in May 2021, is Russia’s first integrated refuse-derived fuel (RDF) facility. Located in close proximity to Holcim’s Ferzikovo cement plant, the new processing line is helping the local cement sector support waste reform in Russia. By Konstantin Bojinov, CPConsult Ltd, Bulgaria

The Kaluga Plant for the Production of Alternative Fuels (KZPAT) is Russia’s

first official project in the field of refuse-derived fuel production

The Kaluga Plant for the Production of Alternative Fuels (KZPAT) is one of the first municipal solid waste (MSW) sorting plants in Russia.

In 2015 the company signed a 20-year Regional Concession Agreement with the city of Kaluga and Russia’s National Ecology Project. The KZPAT facility formed part of this agreement and is capable of processing pre-sorted MSW into refuse-derived fuel (RDF).

The European model of working with MSW, which has been developed for decades, was used as a basis for the plant. The project was supported and developed by CPConsult, Bulgaria.

The facility treats up to 250,000tpa

The project is officially registered under the Government Scheme for Waste Treatment. It is located in the Moscow Region, next to the city of Kaluga and approximately 180km from the capital. What makes KZPAT unique is its proximity to a cement plant as it is situated 40km from Holcim’s Ferzikovo unit.

The fully-integrated plant is able to sort up to 250,000tpa of MSW waste, including industrial wastes. It can produce up to 130,000tpa of RDF. Around 80 per cent of input material comes from household waste in the Kaluga region and the remaining 20 per cent from businesses in the region.

The plant includes a semi-automated conveyor line containing bag opening, trommels, vibration sieves, metal separators and the manual separation of different valuable fractions.

The modern, fully-integrated Lindner shredding line contains primary and secondary shredders. It also includes Nihot air separators between the shredding of material.

Historically, almost 100 per cent of the waste in the region would have been destined for landfill, but the RDF production process enables KZPAT (and the region) to extract recyclable materials such as plastics, card and metals, which would otherwise have been prevented from being recycled.

The operation was strategically built to produce RDF for cement kilns, meaning that material with a high content of water and chlorine that could harm the clinker production process is removed.

Another benefit of RDF production is that due to the relatively high biomass content, GHG emissions will be significantly reduced, thereby improving the carbon footprint of the Kaluga region.

In line with global efforts to phase out fossil fuel usage, promote the principles of a circular economy, resource efficiency and fulfulling the 2019 Russian Presidential order, landfilling must be reduced by 50 per cent by 2030. The KZPAT project marks Russia’s first official project in the field of RDF production, targeting the diversion of thousands of tonnes of waste from reaching landfill, introducing proper waste management and improving the environmental performance of the Kaluga region. The company’s target is to prove that the concept of zero waste in Russia is achievable, which requires an effective partnership and a common goal.

The importance of recycling and waste separation was addressed in the government’s 2018 National Ecology Project. The aim is to create a waste management system in the country for industrial and household waste, and to solve ecological issues that have not been addressed in Russia for many years.

More than 90 per cent of waste, or ~70Mta, in Russia is sent to landfills. There are around 1000 MSW landfills in the country, 5500 authorised landfills and 17,000 unauthorised landfills. Waste disposal sites currently cover an area of 4Mha and increase each year. Most landfills are outdated, and pose challenges to the environment and the surrounding population.

Therefore, in January 2019 the government established the Russian Ecological Operator (REO) to organise and develop an ecological industry within the country. The REO has been equipped with a considerable budget to resolve environmental challenges. During the almost 20 years since Federal Law No 89-FZ ‘On production and consumption waste’ (24 June 1998) came into force, landfills have remained the most common means of disposing of MSW. However, the share of disposable (including recyclable) MSW from the total generated MSW, was small.

Moreover, the process of collecting, transporting and deploying MSW was poorly organised and insufficiently controlled by the state.

As a result, existing landfills have become critically overfilled, the number of unauthorised dumps has increased, and the overall MSW management situation has deteriorated, especially in the Moscow region and other major cities. In fact, the entire country is facing an environmental crisis.

In 2017 and 2018, the federal government adopted a number of organisational and legal measures aimed at resolving the situation. As a result, at the end of 2017, Federal Law No 503-FZ ‘On amending the federal law “On production and consumption waste” and certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation’ (31 December 2017) was adopted to initiate reform.

In 2018, pursuant to Executive Order of the Russian President No 204 ‘On national goals and strategic objectives of the Russian Federation through to 2024’ (7 May 2018), the Presidential Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects and the government of the Russian Federation developed the National Ecology Project introducing a federal ‘Comprehensive MSW management system’ for implementation by the end of 2024.

The main directions of the reform include: the implementation of the main arrangements for the reform programme, started on 1 January 2019, with the objective of arranging the MSW disposal process (including recycling) and separating the collection of waste significantly to reduce landfill waste.

To achieve these goals, each region (ie, constituent entity of the Russian Federation), except for Moscow, St Petersburg and Sevastopol where waste reform has been postponed until 1 January 2022, is required to implement the following measures: • prepare and approve a territorial waste management scheme (including MSW), including a description of how waste management should be organised and conducted in each relevant constituent entity • select a regional operator that will serve as the company responsible for the MSW management process in the relevant region • approve regional MSW management tariffs for legal entities and individuals • build waste sorting and waste recycling facilities • introduce a separate waste collection or accumulation system.

Today, most regions of Russia have already approved their territorial waste management schemes, selected their regional operators and set relevant tariffs. Many regions are gradually introducing the system of a separate (ie, two-container) collection of waste. As a result, the key organisational arrangements are in a high degree of readiness.

However, despite the organisational and legal arrangements already in place, the problem of insufficient funding for the activities of regional operators remains the main obstacle in terms of waste reform implementation.

The waste problem is one of the most pressing on the global agenda and most Russians consider it to be one of the main environmental issues. As previously mentioned, the authorities estimate that landfill areas in the Russian Federation have already reached 4Mha – comparable to the size of The Netherlands or Switzerland. Moreover, the size of this area is growing by 10 per cent annually. Therefore, the most important task is to ‘clean’ the country of waste by creating a system that separates waste, competently manages its flow and recycles it for the benefit of the population and without harming nature.

The fully-integrated Lindner shredding line contains primary and secondary shredders

Co-processing alternative fuels in cement kilns is one of the most environmentally friendly and effective solutions to this issue. The use of MSW as an alternative fuel in cement production will help Russia achieve National Ecology Project indicators, within the framework of which it is planned, to reduce the share of their disposal to landfill by 2024.

So far, Russia is in the early stages of adopting the production of RDF fuel and co-processing in cement kilns. The legislative framework in the country needs to be reassessed to allow cement plants and waste management companies to take a deep-dive into the field of RDF, which is not the case at present.

Current legislation is stimulating landfilling, which is completely inconsistent with governmental targets to reduce landfilling by 2024. Today, the quality of RDF available on the market is relatively low (compared to Europe) with a low calorific value and high humidity, due to an unclear legislative framework.  In addition, the low price of traditional fuels such as gas and coal results in less attractive payback periods when compared with European projects.

Holcim’s Ferzikovo cement plant uses around 50,000tpa of alternative fuels, saving approximately 15 per cent of natural gas. Therefore, it has become one of the first examples of a Russian cement plant that has embarked upon the difficult path towards decarbonisation through the use of alternative fuels.

This article was first published in International Cement Review in March 2022.

Our editors pick the top news delivered to your inbox each day.

Subscribe to International Cement Review

12 issues of the leading cement industry magazine, your choice of complimentary handbook, plus unlimited access to News, Articles and HD Videos.