RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) Explained

Recently, collecting waste materials for recycling has become common practice in households, small businesses and large organisations around the world. Whilst the environmental damage caused by landfill and efforts by most countries to recycle are known, less is known about transforming waste to fuel.

Bales of RDF

RDF Defined

RDF stands for Refuse Derived Fuel. This fuel is produced from combustible components that the waste management industry calls Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). This waste, usually taken from industrial or commercial sites, is shred, dried, baled and then finally burned to produce electricity or heat. Refuse Derived Fuel is a renewable energy source that ensures waste simply isn’t thrown into a landfill but put to efficient use.

RDF Steps

How to produce RDF?

As RDF can use such a variety of materials, there are different techniques to ensure the creation of a homogenous material that can be used as a substitute fossil fuel and act as a reduction agent in furnaces.

The most common way of producing RDF from Municipal Solid Waste is to combine mechanical and biological treatments methods. Such methods include, but are not limited to:


Size screening


Coarse shredding


Bag splitting




Magnetic separation


Refining separation

What types of waste may be Processed?

Various ‘combustible components’ can be processed for the production of RDF. These may include non-recyclable plastics, paper cardboard, labels and generally any combustible materials. The variety of materials able to be processed and turned into Refuse Derived Fuel means that this practice offers important environmental benefits, as less fossil fuels will be required in coal fired cement plants.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development explains:

“Selected waste and by-products with recoverable calorific value can be used as fuels in a cement kiln, replacing a portion of conventional fossil fuels, like coal, if they meet strict specifications. Sometimes they can only be used after pre-processing to provide ‘tailor-made’ fuels for the cement process.”

Bales of RDF being prepared for road transport

Does RDF save Landfill??

Enedroc not only saves waste going to landfill in origination countries but also negates the need for Cement plants at destination to transport coal from Coal producing countries to be burnt in Cement Kilns.