The waste management industry boasts innovative companies which are producing a succession of technological advances.
So it’s a shame to learn the extent to which the new Green Investment Bank (GIB) will have to assist established major waste projects such as public-private partnerships (PPP) deals.
It means that less of the GIB’s £3bn capitalisation will go on those admittedly riskier schemes that other backers will not touch. When the GIB was first announced, many had expected that these would benefit more.
We have to be realistic, though, because harsh economic times dictate tougher decisions about where much-needed cash is spent. It makes sense to ensure that key projects close to the funding finishing line get an extra shove over it. But there’s bafflement that conventional lending banks will not support these PPP projects.
These are not inherently risky ventures: major waste schemes typically involve local authorities which boast better credit ratings than some western European nations.
A consequence is that the aspirations of those entrepreneurs advocating new technologies, and certainly less attractive to the banks, could be frustrated. Sustainability expert Vilhelm Oberg from the tinktank Policy Connect is right to call for clarity on how the GIB will specifically support smaller projects where its money - and possibly no-one else’s - can make a real difference. The GIB has a difficult and delicate balancing act as it takes its first steps.