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A look back at the news in 2013 - January and February

The beginning of 2013 heralded topics that were to dominate throughout the year, from food waste to fires to delays in publication of the MRF Code of Practice.

There were also indications that the Government was less willing to fund infrastructure projects, as Defra withdrew PFI funding from three projects.

4 January

Recycling fire spate prompts insurance fears

Recyclers need to improve risk management strategies to counter a dramatic increase in the number of fires at recycling centres over the last couple of years.

Waste sector insurance companies say that the rise in the number of incidents is driving up the cost of cover and the increasing number and value of claims could even risk making the sector impossible to insure.

 

10 January

Up to half the world’s food is wasted

Up to half the world’s food is ultimately thrown away, according to a report which blames poor storage, over-strict sell-by dates, bulk offers and consumer behaviour.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) says that between 30% and 50% of the four billion tonnes of food produced around the world each year is lost.

Dr Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The reasons for this situation range from poor engineering and agricultural practices, inadequate transport and storage infrastructure through to supermarkets demanding cosmetically perfect foodstuffs and encouraging consumers to overbuy through buy-one-get-one-free offers.”

 

22 January

Industry concern at open data ruling

Waste firms could have their interests damaged and be driven from public sector contracts if regulators succeed in forcing a council to release sensitive EfW technical data, industry insiders have warned.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) told Hertfordshire County Council it must hand over environmental data to anti-incineration campaigners under freedom of information (FoI) rules.

While some councils have released redacted versions of Waste and Resources Assessment Tool for the Environment (WRATE) reports previously, this is the first instance of the ICO getting involved in a disclosure of a such a report.

 

30 January

Industry rejects key Scottish MRF code plans ahead of Defra launch

Industry heavyweights have rejected key proposals in the Scottish Government’s recyclate quality plan ahead the UK Government launch of a similar scheme.

As Defra prepared to launch its long-delayed MRF code of practice and Quality Action Plan (QAP) bodies representing reprocessors and waste management firms revealed their responses to Scotland’s plan.

Reprocessors’ group, the Resource Association (RA) slammed as “wholly inadequate” MRF code sampling and auditing proposals in the Scottish QAP.

 

7 February

Metal merchants fear cash ban crash

Scrap metal merchants have reported gate trade down by up to 50% since cash was banned from the industry in December.

Small and independent dealers across the country have told MRW that the new law, brought in to tackle metal theft, was responsible for seriously damaging their businesses.

Merchants said tradesmen and other gate trade had deserted them and taken their business to itinerant collectors or yards that illegally pay in cash. Others were taking their scrap to larger yards which had invested in on-site cheque-cashing facilities.

 

7 February

Biffa confirms takeover deal complete

The takeover of waste firm Biffa by its lenders has been completed, the company has confirmed.

Four creditors swapped debt for equity and injected £75m new investment into the firm as part of a recapitalisation deal writing off around half of Biffa’s billion-pound debt.

The company confirmed the deal was completed on 28 January, following court approval, in a statement in the firm’s annual accounts for the year to March 2012.

 

21 February

Paper giants deny muscling small traders out of market

Recovered paper traders have accused the big three buyers in the sector of trying to force them out of the market by selling UK material into China at below-cost price.

Two long-standing UK paper exporters told MRW they believed the dominant buyers – Mark Lyndon, ACN and Cycle Link - were paying above the market price for UK recovered paper in order to control the supply market.

ACN said the small traders were naïve and, along with Mark Lyndon, denied using unfair practices.

 

26 February

Court threat as councils weigh funding withdrawal implications

The threat of legal action has been raised following Defra’s decision to withdraw £217m of funding to waste treatment infrastructure last week, throwing three major projects into doubt.

As Labour accused the Government of throwing the projects into chaos, councils affected held crisis talks and demanded a meeting with resources minister Lord de Mauley.

The projects affected are: Bradford and Calderdale; Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority and Halton; and North Yorkshire and City of York.

The leader of one of the councils hit by Defra’s withdrawal of waste infrastructure credits said he would consider taking the Government to court to recover loses if the project collapsed.

2013 January cover

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