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FCC Environment merger puts recycling and renewable energy at its core

The creation of FCC from two waste groups has put recycling and renewable energy firmly at theheart of the new business - leaving landfill disposal behind. Kristian Dales, head of marketing andcommunications, outlines what we can expect.

The creation of FCC from two waste groups has put recycling and renewable energy firmly at the heart of the new business - leaving landfill disposal behind. Kristian Dales, head of marketing and communications, outlines what we can expect.

This year saw the integration and rebranding of Waste Recycling Group (WRG) and Focsa Services (UK) brought into being what is now known as FCC Environment. So this will be the first RWM for the newly formed organisation.

The coming together of two companies, both owned by the international infrastructure, environmental services and energy group, FCC, signified a major shift of focus for its business strategy in the UK. The emphasis is now on recycling and renewable energy leaving landfill disposal as a thing of the past.

As part of the change, the company has broken its business down into five distinct business areas which include municipal services, business waste solutions, green energy, recycling, and waste processing such as hazardous waste treatment.

To grow the business in these areas, FCC Environment has set itself an ambitious development programme over the next five years to put the necessary infrastructure in place to support its customers in their quest to reduce waste to landfill. It is evolving its existing infrastructure to meet new demands, for example putting material recycling facilities (MRFs) on existing or closed landfill sites, in order to reclaim more resources before disposal. It already has numerous projects in the pipeline and there will be more to come.  To make these projects economically viable, it’s also essential to attract additional waste streams, and FCC Environment is actively bidding for commercial and industrial waste contracts and has been successful in securing new business.

The company is already the leading operator of household waste recycling centres (HWRC) in the UK and is continuing to grow with three new contracts: In Buckinghamshire it is operating ten sites for at least the next seven years, in Neath Port Talbot it is operating two civic amenity sites and in Nuneaton it has extended the current HWRC contract and is to build a new site for the local authority.

With a strong focus on C&I, FCC Environment has also won a new contract with DS Smith Recycling to collect and treat 2,000 tonnes of residual waste a year from 150 businesses across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. It will be processed at FCC Environment’s energy from waste (EfW) facility at Eastcroft in Nottingham which generates steam for a district heating scheme. The contract comes in response to the demands from business customers and Government who want better, more appropriate services particularly for SMEs. Developing the right treatment infrastructure is an important step in this process. The next step is to expand the right collection infrastructure to make it work for SMEs at a local level.

Legislation such as landfill tax, together with potential opportunities in the secondary commodity market, means that increasingly waste producers – be they large or small – are looking at ways of getting maximum value from their waste. But it’s not just about extracting more value from recyclables through MRF developments, HWRCs and business glass collections; it’s about recovering value, often in the form of energy, from residual waste that cannot be recycled.

Green energy has become an important strand of FCC Environment. Already the company has two energy from waste (EfW) facilities – one of which is providing a district heating scheme – and a third facility is under construction in Lincolnshire. This latest 150,000 tonne plant is expected to come on line towards the end of 2013 to generate over 11MW of electricity. In addition, FCC Environment has been granted permission for two further EfW plants. One in Buckinghamshire will process up to 300,000 tonnes of residual waste, and another processing 200,000 tonnes of waste for Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Projects such as these are vital to put an end to reliance on landfill and to sustainably treat residual waste that cannot otherwise be recycled.

These are major steps for FCC Environment as it continues to focus on turning our waste into a resource.

With the UK’s target of 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020, green energy is an important part of FCC Environment’s business strategy.  In particular, wind turbines and energy crops will be making a growing contribution to its revenues.  Part of the company’s restoration obligations at closed landfill sites means the land can be used to generate green energy for site use through the production of biogas, or producing the energy crops as a feedstock for power stations such as Drax. In addition, FCC Environment has been granted permission for two wind turbine developments on former landfill sites in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The company is looking to find alternative uses for land at its closed landfill sites.  In Rotherham it has agreed to the siting of an exciting urban sculpture on a former landfill that will overlook the M1 in South Yorkshire. The Man of Steel will be taller than the Angel of the North and it is said to embody the region’s industrial past as well as celebrate the new technology sector that has helped to regenerate the Sheffield city region.

FCC Environment is committed to building a successful and secure future by being customer focused and delivering quality services. To do that the business must develop its people and give them the skills needed to transform our industry. There is a huge requirement in the industry for people with new skills, particularly in developing areas such as energy from waste technologies.  For the first time this year, FCC Environment is running an apprenticeship scheme at its Allington and Eastcroft EfW facilities, which will hone apprentices’ skills in this field.  As more EfW plants come on board, a broad range of skills will become more important. Giving young people the skills now is good in the long run, both for the company and employees.

The company aims to continue to develop new services in terms of collections for both municipal and C&I waste and drive the development of new recycling and renewable energy infrastructure to divert as much waste as possible from landfill. With recycling and renewable energy now at the heart of the business, and with FCC Environment’s growing technological expertise, the business believes it is in a perfect position to offer households and businesses a wide range of services fully aligned to their needs.

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