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British Glass welcomed proposals in the packaging strategy to cap the amount of PRNs that can be issued for glass aggregates at the 2008 level, which should see more glass heading back to recyclers for remelt. But it questioned whether the strategy’s plans to
achieve this - by setting business targets for glass going back to remelt - would result in waste glass being diverted into glass fibre use or exported to Europe for remelt. Both of these options would not be as welcome as glass being recycled back into containers by UK reprocessors.

Data from the National Packaging Waste Database shows the amount of waste glass going into aggregate use has been steadily rising between 2002-09, as has the export of waste glass. Meanwhile, recycling of glass into containers has dropped off since 2006, when 800,000 tonnes was recycled compared with 600,000 tonnes in 2009.

British Glass recycling manager Rebecca Cocking said: “The UK needs to move away from simply meeting the next set of targets and look at long-term sustainability. If glass was collected with the best quality in mind, all end-use applications would benefit.”

In the past month, more local authorities have signed off contracts to deal with their food and garden waste. Milton Keynes chose Renewable Power Systems to build and operate an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant to benefit from the biogas produced by the process. It already collected organic waste for composting, but decided that creating energy would mean the heat could be pumped into its district heating system, while it could also take advantage of the renewable heat incentive, which begins in April 2011.

It is thought that more local authorities will move from composting to AD plants for the energy factor.

Additionally, after acquiring TJ Composting last month, Countrystyle Group won a £16m contract to manage waste and cleaning services at the New Spitalfields horticultural market in Leyton, east London. It plans to compost food and organic waste, once recyclables are separated from the mix, which will be then transported to Countrystyle’s in-vessel composting facility in Kent.

Wales saw the opening of its largest plastic flaking facility last month, putting it on the map for plastic recycling because it is also the largest flaking facility for food-grade plastic in the UK. Owned by newcomer Plastics Sorting, it has the capacity to take 24,000
tonnes of PET bottles. Half the flake will be taken by two Welsh plastic recycling firms, while the rest will be sold to those in England.

With the plant expected to be fully operational by the beginning of May, and Closed Loop still looking at plans to build a food-grade plastic recycling facility in north Wales, it seems plastic waste will be in demand. The AWS Eco Plastics bottle facility in Lincolnshire
will also be up and running again later this year. Some plastic recyclers think there will be a surplus of capacity for plastic recycling in the UK, possibly pushing prices up as UK companies compete for what little material is available.

While one plant opens, another closes, with yet another fire destroying a plastics recycling facility. Owned by Eurokey Recycling, its site in Enderby, Leicester, was burnt to the ground during the last bank holiday weekend. But managing director Joe Bisland expects to keep customer orders fulfilled as moves to open the company’s Hinckley facility were brought forward to help it carry on with business as usual. The new facility is 50,000sq ft, almost double the size of the ruined Enderby site.

JMP Wilcox announced its takeover of European Textile Recycling’s (ETR) collection business in April. The move means that Wilcox will now be one of the biggest clothing collectors in the UK alongside the Salvation Army. With the acquisition, Wilcox will now own more than 2,000 textile and shoe collection bins across England and Wales, allowing the Midlands-based company to cover more distance over the whole of the country. ETR was bought for a six-figure sum.


Corus was in the news as local newspaper, the Middlesbrough Gazette, revealed that the company may have received a bid for its troubled Teesside Cast Products plant at least two months before it decided to mothball it in December. Thai steel giant SSI has been named as the bidder, although this remains unconfirmed.

Most in the industry are seeing it as a rumour for now. But it was found that SSI had actually visited the plant in the past month, seeming to show its interest. Corus workers’ union Community has called on Corus to be open about any bids it receives from potential buyers. If SSI was to buy the TCP plant, it would have to work at full capacity again which, in turn, would boost the scrap industry.

Prices for ferrous had risen quite high in April. But at the beginning of May, before the steelworks decided on prices, there was expected to be drop of around £30-£50 per tonne.

Tightening import controls in China have left exporters alarmed because they were calling on a ban on goods that were not bagged, boxed or baled. More clarity is being sought over new restrictions. The Bureau of International Recycling has called on China to cancel VAT on imported scrap to stop corruption within the import market, so there is no need for so many restrictions and regulations on imports.

This issue, plus news of the eurozone bail-out of the Greek debt, mean that buying prices across the metals have been hard to determine and have fluctuated rapidly during the month.

Novelis announced a price increase on aluminium cans at the beginning of May. The price for loose and flattened cans rose from £800 to £875/tonne, while baled and densified cans went up from £850 to £925/tonne. This announcement was the fourth price rise so far this year, with prices rising by £325 since mid-December. But a week later, Novelis brought its UBC prices back down again to £800/tonne for loose whole flattened cans and £850/tonne for baled/densified.

National recycling manager Andy Doran said the move reflected the changing markets “to keep prices competitive”.

Wood recyclers revealed concerns over the impending site permits that will be coming in under new Environment Agency regulations and which could affect as many as half the wood recycling sites in the UK. One recycler predicted that the ‘clean up’ of the permit system could mean the sector will experience a lot of consolidation, due to existing firms being unable to afford the extra cost of new permits and the associated changes.

The anxiety centres round a clause in the revised permit regulations stipulating that wood recyclers cannot accept ‘treated’ wood on their sites if they work under an exemption. It appears that those working under an exemption - around 50% of wood recyclers
– will only be allowed to accept very clean wood waste. This could mean wood recyclers that take waste from civic amenity sites may no longer be able to do so because much of the waste from these sites contains materials other than wood, or includes treated
wood, which would include any painted wood, preserved wood, chipboard or MDF.

But some recyclers were positive about the new enforcements, which will be more tightly regulated and monitored than before.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Comment on Wood

    With the introduction of permits for so called dirty wood we may at last end up with a level playing field where recyclable wood is properly identified and unrecyclable wood is subjected to the proper controls that exist in the rest of europe and stop the sham recycling currently taking place. Hopefully this will also extend to the proper export controls being applied to so called 'dirty wood'. There is a sound market for unrecyclable wood as fuel but it will require much better enforcement of reprocessors if the desired increase in UK infrastructure is to be developed

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