The sector was dominated this month by the RWM exhibition at Birmingham’s NEC, a highlight of which was the launch of WRAP’s highly anticipated harmonised collections scheme.
Marcus Gover, who took over as chief executive of the charity in the summer, said its implementation would be a focus of his tenure.
Unlike more heated discussions at the event on topics such as extended producer responsibility, the charity’s report was almost universally praised across the industry.
A more contentious topic was the EA’s Fire Prevention Plan guidance, which continued to cause a stir when it was revealed the agency had chosen to introduce some measures with approval from less than 25% of waste firms that responded to a consultation.
Two EA advisers on one panel at RWM tried to reassure concerned groups such as the Wood Recyclers’ Association that not all sites would have to adhere to all the measures in the guidance.
Sympathy for the EA, and much concern for the industry’s regulatory future, was expressed as 52 of its 500+ staff within the environment and business team left at the end of September following spending cuts.
The best known of these to the industry, former deputy director of illegals and waste Mat Crocker, said his goodbyes in person at RWM, with a message that the fight against crime would not succeed just by shutting down illegal sites. He said the supply had to be cut off.
The EA produced its annual report, showing that nearly 1,000 illegal sites had been closed, and more than 50% of new illegal sites were shut within 90 days. It also said that serious pollution incidents at permitted sites fell 36%.
Away from RWM, Biffa announced its intention to float on the Stock Exchange in October and Viridor reported strong progress on its EfW plants, shortly after chief executive Ian McAulay joined the lengthy list of key industry figures leaving their posts this year.
Plastics recyclers continued to suffer, and administrators for both Essex’s Ecotech and south London’s PlasRecycle failed to find buyers for their innovative companies. Suez followed the ESA’s footsteps in producing its own ‘wish list’ for waste policy, even suggesting that responsibility for waste policy move to the new business department.