Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of MRW, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Investment in waste: Simon Ellin, Recycling Association

Since the deep, dark recession which hit the UK from 2009 onwards, most of our members would agree that the industry has never fully recovered. Certainly things are better than the really deep, dark days of 2010 – 2013, but are they sufficiently improved to encourage significant investment? I’m afraid the answer is no.

Not only are many businesses still struggling to make sufficient profits to encourage inward investment, but the general UK and global climates do not fill our member’s heads with any degree of confidence.

The Recycling Association has constantly eschewed the fact that we feel investment and responsibility has to be shared throughout the supply chain, but cuts in public spending, and producer responsibility reluctance has meant that the majority of the finance has to come from the private, processing sector – however, a reduction in bank lending, policy uncertainty, over regulation, significant fire and insurance costs/risks and general global uncertainty has meant a lack of investment in infrastructure and thus a stagnation or reduction in revenue streams.

Let me give you a quick example from the recovered paper sector – unlike in Europe, where most storage yards are under cover, most UK merchants have to store their processed material outside. Thus when we have a wet winter, and let’s face it, that is every winter, the merchant sector faces massive moisture claims.

With the plethora of choices, particularly from the Chinese market which underpins our industry, buyers are now looking elsewhere in the winter months for their fibre.

What is the simple answer? Build a storage facility of course – however, to build anything of significance is going to require an investment of at least £100k for even the smallest structure. Most merchants, for the reasons outlined above, simply do not have the capital or the confidence that they can pay back the capital even if they are able to borrow it.

This means that these structures don’t get built and hence the circle decreases. Add to this, the recent WISH and EA directives limiting stack sizes and distances and overzealous regulation where some buyers have pulled out of Scotland altogether and you quickly get the picture.

We as an industry need to forge closer links with the likes of the Green Investment Bank and we need to form closer partnerships with other trade associations, government quangos and the regulators so that we can forge the crucial partnerships that will turn the corner for our members. We need to understand each other’s issues and agendas to provide the support we need at the grass roots level.

Our industry has been a massive success story and our roots far precede the green boom. To take this on to the next level, the decision makers need to realise that we are the most important cog in the chain. And we need support.

Simon Ellin, chief executive, Recycling Association

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.