Business took centre stage in the sector with changes for some of bigger companies including Biffa, which headed the cast by going public. The flotation effectively valued the waste manager at about half that expected when the move was announced in the summer.
Shanks nailed its merger with Van Gansewinkel, with the coupling due to be formalised by the end of the year. We also had Urbaser sold by its Spanish owner Actividades de Construccion y Servicios to Chinese-controlled Firion Investments. Suez took a 30% stake in TerraCycle’s European operation.
FCC announced a £450m EfW plant in Scotland, and Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin signed a deal with CoGen to develop gasification projects in the UK.
There was fresh hope for the troubled elements of New Earth Resources, with Irish recycle PandaGreen buying up five facilities in the UK. The most intriguing news, though, was the announcement from Liberty House steel group that it was setting up a metals recycling division. Dealers generally saw this as a positive move because they thought it offered greater competition.
Party conferences came and went with many speeches about the Brexit vote but few developments affecting waste. Suez and Policy Connect jointly hosted a fringe meeting on the industry at the Conservative conference in Birmingham attended by Coffey.
It was open season for publishing reports and, in the past month, news articles on the MRW website reflected varied reviews from the ESA (extended producer responsibility), WRAP (recycling guidelines), CIWM (reuse) and the Recycling Association (export rules and the need for material quality).
Defra’s 25-year plan for the environment was not expected until the new year, but a framework document was taking time to appear, with ministers variously described the likely publication as being “shortly”, “soon”, “November” or “in the next few months”.
Several news reports on the MRW website underscored the impact of austerity on councils, with an increasing number starting to charge residents who want to drop off DIY waste at household recycling centres. The councils claimed such charges were legal, but the DCLG begged to differ and the uncertainty prompted some re-thinking.
At the end of the month, FCC Environment officially opened its new energy recovery plant in partnership with Buckinghamshire County Council, the latest manifestation of the company’s shift away from landfill.