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

China problem costs council £500,000

China’s import restrictions on recyclable materials have forced an Essex council to agree a £500,000 payment to contractor Biffa.

Epping Forest District Council entered a 10-year risk sharing contract valued at £30m with Biffa in 2014.

But China’s decision to bar most recyclable material imports has seen the price for paper slump from £100 to £5 a tonne during the past year, according to a report to councillors by acting chief executive Derek Macnab.

He added that the risk-sharing deal was one “not many councils had [and] so this council was achieving good value for money from this aspect of the contract, generating an income of £2.5m for the council over the first four years of the contract”, until the problems from China arose.

The report said Biffa had invested some £4.6m in its Edmonton MRF, where materials was processed for Epping Forest and other councils, to try to make the paper more saleable by improving its quality.

Epping Forest had Biffa’s figure independently verified by consultancy WYG Environmental.

Councillors noted that difficulties in exporting recycled materials to China had resulted in “significant capital and ongoing investments made by Biffa… to improve and enhance the quality of output materials”.

They said the council should pay £500,000 in recognition of this, agreed as £250,000 this year and £50,000 in each of the remaining five years of the contract.

Refusing Biffa’s request for money could either see the company end the contract or the materials landfilled, it said.


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.