The referendum in June which directed the Government to leave the EU startled an industry, for which an estimated 80% of regulations came from Brussels. The ‘why’ was quickly replaced by ‘when’ and ‘how’, and the consequences for the waste sector.
Months of debate on the relevance and reach of the European Commission’s CE proposals were overtaken by discussion on what might take their place.
An early decision was taken by sustainability consultant Oakdene Hollins, which said it would relocate to the Irish Republic. Another immediate impact was a shift in currency rates, with the weaker pound making the export of RDF to the continent less worthwhile.
Political reverberations that in included the resignation of Cameron as prime minister and May replacing him resulted in the abolition of the climate change department and its responsibilities taken over by a new department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
A reshuffle brought Andrea Leadsom in as environment secretary and Therese Coffey replaced Rory Stewart as waste/resource minister.
On the business front, Shanks announced it had agreed a merger in principle with major Dutch recycling firm Van Gansewinkel ahead of finalising arrangements in the coming months. Advanced conversion technology specialist Energos went under, meaning problems from those managing its four key contracts, including gasification plants being built by Interserve at Derby (for Shanks) and Glasgow (for Viridor).
Another long prison term was beginning, this time for Terence Dugbo following a seven-week trial involving WEEE fraud. Dugbo was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for making more than £2m through falsified paperwork and other activities. He had previous convictions for illegally exporting hazardous waste to Nigeria.
The non-recyclable coffee cup had been highlighted by the BBC TV programme Hugh’s War on Waste and this month MRW reported on industry responses. The Food Packaging Association and the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group launched a manifesto to find ways to cut the total of 2.5 billion cups used in the UK each year – of which only 0.25% is recycled.
The founders of WasteAid UK thanked the RWM Ambassadors for backing their fledgling charity with £15,000 to help deliver practical, low-cost waste services in developing countries. WasteAid was the first recipient of a grant from i2i.