The big political news of the month was the Chancellor’s Autumn statement. Concern at an absence of measures to boost the sector was voiced by several, including the CIWM’s Colin Church, who was disappointed that there was no reference to future-proofing UK industry and infrastructure for climate change or any imperative for low-carbon, ‘green’ growth.
The Commons Environmental Audit select committee got in ahead of the event by urging Hammond to adopt a more joined-up approach to the environment in decision-making. The MPs’ report accused the Treasury of putting short-term policies ahead of sustainability, potentially increasing future costs and harming investor confidence. It also called for a clearer strategy on landfill tax.
Struggling plastics recycler Evolve Polymers, which originally launched as ECO Plastics in 2000, was bought by US firm Plastipak Pack. In better times, the company had run a joint venture with Coca-Cola Enterprises, trading as Continuum Recycling, with the capacity to sort 150,000 tonnes of mixed bottles a year.
Other takeovers included Remondis moving into household collections by acquiring north-east waste manager JBT; Hills Waste Solutions extending its footprint by taking on Able Waste Management Management; and Smurfit Kappa UK acquiring Saxon Packaging, an independent converter of board into corrugated boxes and fitments, based in Lowestoft, Suffolk.
The latest purchase by newly floated Biffa was Blakeley’s Recycling, the north-west firm for which it paid £2.6m and assumed finance leases of £2.4m.
Among the regular reports on the MRW website of illegality and bad practice, the HSE reported in its annual look at the waste sector that more than £1,334,000 in fines were doled out last year.
Clear-up work began at the massive Waste4Fuel refuse site in Orpington, Kent, which has been blighted by scores of fires. In September, the London Borough of Bromley had bought the site from its owner and set out to remove the 15,000 tonnes of abandoned waste stored there.
Veolia’s impressive recycling and recovery facility in Leeds, which boasts the biggest ‘green wall’ in Europe, was officially unveiled.
And Lee, formerly of the CIWM, was recruited to help develop the annual RWM with CIWM industry event in Birmingham.