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2014 - Ian Wakelin, Biffa

We look forward to 2014 with a sense of excitement. Biffa will be opening a network of new infrastructure to serve the growing crisis of local commercial and industrial waste treatment capacity. Biffa will be investing in up to seven locations over the next 18 months to treat food waste, extract recyclable materials or convert waste into fuel for the recovery of energy.

We still have a long way to go in terms of really valuing our wasted resources, and I hope the time will come when “waste” is treated as a true commodity, allowing the hedging of its value in a transparent, standardised, and efficient way. In the meantime we continue to focus our efforts on the circular economy approach, driving innovation, efficiency and sustainability, and we are looking forward to the opportunities and challenges of another year in this vital and ever-fascinating industry.

2013 was eventful to say the least. Biffa launched a number of new initiatives at RWM, including a new partnership with homeless charity StreetLink. Our aim is to address the risks to homeless people of sleeping in waste containers, and Biffa is funding a study by CIWM and ESA to understand the scale of this issue and ensure we are, as an industry, doing everything we can. This is a critical concern and I would invite all waste operators to participate in the research and campaign.

I had the pleasure of my 45 minutes of fame this year, featuring on C4’s Undercover Boss programme. It was an eye-opening experience that taught me so much more about the company than I could ever have learned from staff surveys.

Biffa’s flagship IWM division has made the move from waste to resources with its rebranding as Biffa IRM (Integrated Resource Management). Our IRM teams are embedded in companies up and down the country, working largely with manufacturers towards Zero Waste and Zero Waste Costs. Our success in this area has led to an altogether new offering, R3MC, which is applying the best of Biffa’s intelligent approach to sustainable resource management through a consultancy-based approach.

I had the pleasure of my 45 minutes of fame this year, featuring on C4’s Undercover Boss programme. It was an eye-opening experience that taught me so much more about the company than I could ever have learned from staff surveys. I’m pleased to say that the improvements and developments we have since put in motion are proving effective, and I am hugely grateful to all Biffa people for their hard work and dedication to the job.

We have had notable successes through all levels of the business. The year began with the recapitalisation of Biffa, strengthening the company and reinforcing our position as a leading force in the sector. Biffa also acquired Shanks’ UK solid waste business, enabling us to leverage our national infrastructure and further improve the quality of our service.

Biffa must be doing something right as we and our customers have won awards for a whole array of projects, from waste collection logistics to efficiency, energy recovery, environmental sustainability and innovation. I am extremely proud of our people and they deserve recognition, so thanks must go too to the organisers and sponsors of these industry awards.

Ian Wakelin, managing director Biffa

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