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Caution over future of UK waste sector

The UK waste management economy remained relatively resilient despite the recession, but could yet be hit by a further downturn, a report has concluded.

The study by Apex Insight puts the UK market value at £8.4bn. It is based on data from economic, government and company sources as well as interviews with senior industry contacts.

“Growth rates in recent years were close to 7% per annum,” said the report. “This relative resilience is due to structural and regulatory drivers, spurring the industry on to avoid household and commercial waste reaching landfill.”

The study included analysis of relevant economic factors – such as GDP, household trends, landfill diversion targets – and more specific factors including waste arisings, landfill void levels, treatment markets and innovation in waste-to-energy.

“Having stayed relatively resilient in the economic downturn, continued growth in the industry is underpinned by some structural drivers and should reach just over £9bn in 2012,” it said.

“The market remains relatively concentrated with a few European operators taking a significant share of the total market. These larger players have significant scale and negotiation advantages compared to their smaller peers. 

“Future growth is supported by regulation across the collection and treatment segments, targets that need to be met, decreasing landfill void and new innovations in waste-to-energy.”

However, some uncertainties remain, including the risk that slow economic recovery could lead to continued depressed business activity across the waste generation industries.

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