Managing the effective disposal of industrial materials is a constantly evolving challenge, both to the planet and to technology.
The speed of technological change currently provides the greatest hope for meeting these twin challenges. The recycling industry is increasingly able to process not just a wider range of industrial materials, but is also finding new and more efficient uses for the materials that emerge at the end of the recycling process.
Technological progress also means greater efficiency throughout the recycling process – and thus lower costs.
UK Waste Investments
£1.9bn total investments in 2017
£4.4bn expected in 2020
£18.6bn total value of projects
£70.7m average worth of a project
Chemical recycling is one technique to emerge recently which offers a compelling business case. It works with a wide variety of plastics and polymers, breaking them down into high-value synthetic oils that can be used to remanufacture products.
Fortunately Britain’s financial sector is increasingly stepping up to help small and medium-sized recycling businesses to keep pace. One way it has done so is through the rapid growth of asset finance – loans which are secured against the asset they are being used to fund.
Today, terms can be structured to suit the seasonal cashflow fluctuations and provide more than the ability to acquire the asset.
And by being secured against an asset – such as a baler or a sorter – such loans can provide accessible finance to companies leaving bank finance free to satisfy other requirements.
While asset finance for the recycling industry remains a specialist field, its steady growth is helping to lower the financial hurdles that have until now held back the universal adoption of the latest recycling technology.
Official statistics from Defra show how much is at stake. Across the UK, recycling rates are stagnating and there is a real chance that England, Scotland and Northern Ireland could all fail to meet the national target of a 50% recycling rate by 2020.
Critics of the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan accuse its timeframe of lacking ambition, and there is a growing sense in the recycling industry that more needs to be done, and more quickly.
The winning combination of improving technology and better access to the specialist finance needed to fund it, offers the industry a rare opportunity to drive the environmental changes that the country and the planet need.
Daniel Bailey is managing director at Arkle Finance