More from: 2013 review - Herman van der Meij, Viridor
Paul Featherstone, group director, SugaRich – recycler of surplus food products
The waste and recycling industry has certainly evolved throughout 2013, undoubtedly because the UK is increasingly more competent and confident in implementing a better defined and progressive waste reduction strategy. The target to halve edible food waste by 2020 is drawing ever closer, and there is a greater realisation amongst businesses of all sizes, that more has to be done to achieve the UK’s ultimate zero food waste to landfill ambition.
As a result, our business has continued to grow throughout 2013. Food manufacturers and retailers are becoming ever-more aware of their landfill diversion responsibilities and the costs associated with traditional disposal routes. They are also buying into the concept of the circular economy and are seeking the multiple benefits that come with a closed loop business model.
This means SugaRich is now working with more businesses throughout the UK, so we have expanded our infrastructure to meet the more widespread demand for our recycling services. Our customer profile has evolved too. We have been working with larger companies for some time as they are traditionally quicker to acknowledge their corporate and social responsibilities. However legislative and commercial pressures, more discerning consumer opinions and shocking food waste headlines, mean smaller organisations are now also taking action. This trend will surely continue into 2014. After all, food is a resource from which value can continue to be harnessed.
Kevin Spiess, EMEA sales manager, BS&B Safety Systems – explosion protection and prevention specialist
During 2013 there were a number of serious fires at recycling facilities, some of which hit the national news headlines due to the severity of damage caused. Every year, premises are severely damaged or destroyed by dust fires that usually start in dust extraction and waste conveying equipment. End of year figures for 2012 from the Chief Fire Officers’ Association indicated there were 300 blazes in the sector and it is likely that a similar figure will follow this year.
We are now seeing concerted efforts by a range of recycling and waste industries to address this issue. Indeed the Environment Agency has recently issued guidelines for storage, fire prevention and fire suppression at waste management sites.
BS&B has certainly seen an increase in enquiries and the waste recycling industry is showing the largest growth in terms of our industry sales and installations.
A number of protection measures can be implemented. These range from improvements in housekeeping to eliminate the build-up of deposits of combustible dust which may accumulate on beams in the factory, to investment in protection equipment. Dust disturbed by a primary explosion in the process equipment can result in a more severe secondary explosion.
Julian Rinfret, sales director, Balcan Engineering – manufacturer of safety products
This has been another successful year for Balcan Engineering. As well as landing a number of new international contracts, we have also developed a next-generation lamp crushing plant – capable of processing over 10,000 spent bulbs every hour.
With continued government commitment to supporting waste management strategies, we’re confident that the next 12 months will be even more successful for the industry. In fact, we expect 2014 to be key in progress towards meeting national recycling targets.
But as waste professionals, we need to think further than just the UK. Safe and effective bulk recycling needs to be a priority worldwide – not only to minimise landfill dumping and achieve projected figures, but also to effectively utilise reusable components and make the most of resources.
In 2014, I would like to see a high priority placed on streamlining and further progressing international recycling initiatives – ensuring a universal approach to safe and effective bulk lamp recycling.
Emma Elston, co-founder, UK Container Maintenance – container repair and refurbishment specialist
2013 has been another incredible year for UK Container Maintenance with business continuing to steadily grow financially, as well as operationally.
This year I have been involved with several initiatives for women in business: as a guest speaker at the RBS Aspiring Women Conference to encourage and inspire female employees, lead speaker at the RWM ‘Women in Waste’ session and I was also asked to partake in the Government Women’s Business Council discussion, where innovative and like-minded women motivated and engaged with budding businesswomen.
Most recently, UKCM triumphed at the Trinity Mirror Cheshire Business Awards where the company was crowned Business of the Year 2013 (over 50 employees).
In 2014 the team has big plans to export into new European markets and will be showcasing at the IFAT exhibition in Munich in May. The expansion plans are extremely exciting and UKCM is looking forward to introducing its business model overseas.
Chris Oldfield, managing director, Untha UK – supplier of waste shredding technology
While it is still incredibly price driven, the industry has gradually started to return its attention to quality in 2013. Organisations are increasingly acknowledging the fact that they are handling resources from which future value can be harnessed. Fewer companies are looking at these materials as simply wastes that will be disposed of.
There is also growing appreciation for the fact that a quality-led approach needn’t cost the earth – in fact it can save money in the long run.
This trend has been witnessed in the Waste to Energy market. While quality considerations have perhaps always been apparent with the manufacturing of SRF, producers of RDF have tended to focus more on throughput and efficiencies.
This is understandable to a certain extent, because end users do not have the same quality requirements. There is wealth in waste, and a thriving RDF export market has, to date, meant that valuable recyclates such as metals have also been shipped abroad within RDF. Pleasingly, in the second half of 2013, more companies began to recognise the importance of extracting such revenue-generating materials. Technologies enabling a more methodical, cost-beneficial approach to RDF production should therefore prove popular into 2014.
Greater collaborative efforts have been seen across the industry too, with the sharing of knowledge and expertise much more commonplace. This is undoubtedly because there is a demand for stronger UK leadership, which everyone seems to agree is still lacking at Government level.
Mark Smith, technical director, Middleton Engineering – equipment manufacturer
Following a slow start for the industry, the level of tenders and enquiries has steadily increased during 2013, and for us it has been an unusually busy autumn, both in terms of manufacturing with increased demand for new balers and conveyors, as well as preventative maintenance and refurbishment work.
A growing trend we are seeing is the demand for specialist bespoke conveyors rather than off the shelf options. This is a crucial element in any waste recycling operation but its importance is sometimes overlooked. Operators are increasingly aware that conveyors should never be an afterthought if they want to optimise production and throughput.
Middletons invested further in its 30-year old apprenticeship programme, which develops capable engineers to keep fresh talent coming through the business. We work with local Somerset colleges to ensure apprentices receive the best training in electronics, welding, machining and hydraulics - all vital skills for our design, fabrication and service teams.
As well as re-launching our baler division under the Scapa name, a brand we purchased in 1988, in a move to differentiate our growing baler business from our other heavy engineering projects, we also sold our first high performance twin ram baler, the Scapa ME2R150.
In response to tough times for the recycling industry, we also launched an extension to our family of channel balers, the Scapa HB60 range: three different models gives cost conscious medium and large recyclers a wider choice of affordable balers to suit their needs.
If Autumn 2013 is anything to go by the New Year is already looking promising.
Mark Hyde, commercial director, WAMITAB – waste management industry training and advisory board
WAMITAB has been transforming itself in terms of branding, strategy and partnership focus over the past 12 months, and this effort culminated in one of our biggest achievements of 2013 – the WAMITAB Skills Village at RWM. This was the first initiative of its kind at RWM, and brought together leading experts in training, consultancy and qualifications to offer guidance on a broad skills-related agenda. To ensure the adoption and success of the circular economy, the recycling and waste management industries need to embrace the opportunities that skills and training offer so that a competent and confident workforce is ready to take this forward. The Skills Village succeeded in raising the issue to the top of the agenda, and the feedback we received proves just how valuable this initiative is. WAMITAB will certainly be looking to develop it further in 2014.
2013 was also the year of convergence. The waste management and recycling industries continue to work more closely together, with facilities management playing an ever more important role in these sectors. It also saw waste producers sitting around the table to discuss the benefits of reusing materials more widely – another positive step. All in all, 2013 was an encouraging year, and I expect to see this trend for collaboration and commitment to investing in people and technologies continue well into 2014 and beyond.
2013 Review - the view from business