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Investment in waste: Roger Morton, Axion Polymers

Judging by the enquiries we are currently receiving, there seems to be no shortage of interest or appetite for investing in the waste sector. Yet many of these keen investors tend to be tempted more by the technology on offer, rather than being led by the real market opportunity.

And that’s where we’re often advising people not to invest because they haven’t thought enough about the market.

Investment in the waste sector works best when you have firm control of your raw material supply; if you’re a primary collector of the material, for example. First secure your raw material supply and then explore the technology or a combination of technologies to process it.

Very often we see people coming to us with a technology they think is very exciting - having seen it at an exhibition, read about it in a magazine or someone’s told them about it - then they’re looking for a raw material supplier for it. That’s the wrong way round.

With control of your raw material supply, you can then decide on the best processing solution. There are many technologies available and a combination of them might provide the right answer and deliver best value. Consult the resource recovery experts to guide you in the right direction.

Our Shredder Waste Advanced Processing Plant (SWAPP) at Trafford Park in Greater Manchester has become a sustainable business thanks to our close ties with a major metal recycling operation, S Norton & Co, generating a huge volume of mixed non-metallic material from end-of-life vehicles.

Although difficult to separate, this ‘unusual’ waste stream is always available and not affected by potentially unpredictable spot market dynamics. At the SWAPP and our Salford polymer refinery, we produce recycled plastics, including Axpoly r-PP51 that goes back into new automotive componentsand materials for the construction industry. 

Secure long-term supply contracts are vital for success; think businesses having large collection contracts with local authorities or major waste management companies offering steady supplies of raw material.

On the whole we see fewer worries with markets for the output products because very often those are much more commodity-led.

Our feed materials may not be the ‘prettiest’, but we view them not as a waste, but as a resource that we’re mining, full of interesting materials to recover. That’s how investors need to think.

With a consistent and steady supply of material that you can control and the right technology to process it into something interesting; you have a financeable project.

Roger Morton, director, Axion Polymers

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