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Review of 2017 - August

Michael Gove injected new life into Defra’s delayed 25-year environment plan, saying the UK’s departure from the EU presented an “historic opportunity” to review policies, including that of waste. 

He acknowledged the plan “had been longer in gestation than a baby elephant” but he wanted to make it as ambitious as possible.

The challenging nature of working in the waste sector was brought home yet again with two serious incidents, one fatal. A 40-year-old man died and two were injured in a blast at Innovative Environmental Solutions in Oldbury, West Midlands, while a worker at Viridor’s Longley Lane MRF in Manchester suffered severe arm injuries from a conveyor.

The news around secondary material prices was brighter. Ferrous and non-ferrous markets were picking up, with copper grades showing strongly in our weekly price reports. Another was Q2 packaging recycling data showing that the UK was well on the way to meeting its targets, despite continuing concerns over China’s crackdown on waste imports.

More surprising, perhaps were figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government showing that straitened councils in England would increase spending on waste and recycling by £200m this year, a growth of 5% over two years.

The now-traditional six-monthly review of infrastructure in the UK by Eunomia produced a stronger response than usual from those within the industry who are not convinced by the consultancy’s repeated assertion that there will be overcapacity during the 2020s.

The response from the ESA was particularly sharp, rebuffing Eunomia by name, and the debate prompted Suez to bring forward its own forecast which concluded that undercapacity was probable.

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