The impact of falling prices for recycled materials was underscored in the annual results posted by waste management giants Shanks and Viridor. The former reported a 15% fall in trading profit after a “challenging year” in its municipal division and the latter said it was not relying on price recovery in the short term.
Shanks also said it had “no expectation of material recovery”. Biffa, meanwhile, continued its acquisition strategy by buying Cory Environmental Group’s municipal business for £13.5m. Cory said the arm was no longer a core activity.
The issue of local authority funding was raised this month, with Larac chair Andrew Bird telling a CIWM conference that the UK’s 50% target for household recycling was in real doubt as the Government’s austerity policies would force councils to do “less with less”.
Bird also disputed the suggestion in an ESA report for the transfer of ownership of household waste streams from the public to the private sector (see May). He said it would be a missed opportunity not to engage first with councils to find ways of improving collections.
His comments coincided with the announcement from Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster councils that they were planning a joint South Yorkshire waste strategy from 2017 at the earliest.
Meanwhile, a Parliamentary answer indicated the extent to which local authorities in England were switching from residual collections every week to alternate weekly regimes.
The fall in commodity and end-market prices for recovered materials was affecting MRF gate fees, according to WRAP. Its annual snapshot Gate Fee Report found significant increases in most waste treatments, although food and green waste processing fees remained steady.
Meanwhile, the REA warned that Government policy changes had driven a slowing in the development of EfW and anaerobic digestion schemes. The association hoped the proposed CE package from the EU would stimulate further growth.
In a year in which prison terms for waste offenders appeared to be on the increase, one of the longest jail sentences was imposed at Teesside Crown Court. Tony Leigh Shepherd was sent to prison for three years and ordered to pay £350,00 under proceeds of crime legislation. The court heard he had made more than £1m from his illegal activities.