Warning of a perfect storm hitting the waste industry in 2011/2012 has been issued by a leading waste figure.
Biffa Waste Services development director Peter Jones predicted imminent financial and technological challenges and opportunities across the public and private sectors at a recent waste conference.
He said there were three drivers for this situation. Firstly, economic market failure under the current Government administration, which uses subsidies rather than longer term investment inducements like tax increases. Secondly, the need for a technological solution to deal with waste and thirdly, the need to communicate the need for facilities to a suspicious general public.
Jones said that with the carbon debate moving to a conclusion, people were now talking about waste as part of that CO2 reduction process. It has opened up the issues around global warming, he added.
Outlining the reorganisational challenges facing Local Government (LG) he said the waste industry would prefer consolidation to enable economies of scale but this would go against the grain of LG reorganisation.
He also pointed to the huge financial hits coming towards local authorities (LAs) particularly around 2011 and 2012, what I call the perfect storm, when LATS [Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme] cease to be an academic debate about notional trading and start to assume real values based on pure performance.
Jones issued a warning to organisations with significant financial exposure to landfill disposal, claiming they would be dead in the water by 2011/2012 if they continued to rely on high cost gate fee based technologies. With newer technologies like anaerobic digestion (AD) coming, there could be a landfill inputs crash by 2013. He said Biffa was not expanding, or even replacing, its landfill capacity.
He highlighted a draft standard for defining the carbon footprint of landfill, CHP [Combined Heat and Power], AD and other waste facilities and said that people needed to be aware of the carbon reduction commitment. By 2011, there will be league tables for different sectors, he said, which will cover total energy consumption.
Heat and energy will be the most bankable things for the waste industry in future, he predicted, adding: Now the economics are coming into alignment there will probably be a great surplus of processing technologies for waste by 2015.
Image: Biffa Waste Services development director Peter Jones