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Review of 2017 - June

The result of the General Election caused the full gamut of emotions and political responses but had little immediate impact on the waste sector, apart from what turned out to be a bit of a coup: the recall to Cabinet of Michael Gove as environment secretary.

Recycling barely registered during the election campaign itself but Therese Coffey – who kept her job as resource minister after the reshuffle – said she was taking a closer look at whether the UK should move recycling away from weight-based targets.

The most shocking news story of the month was the culmination of a modern slavery case in which four people were jailed for a combined 32 years for their part in a recycling slavery ring. They were trafficking Polish migrants, and using threats and violence to force them to work in waste and recycling plants across the north-east of England. This cast a shadow over the industry with suggestions that gangs had targeted the sector more widely.

MRW continued to report Chinese efforts to control the import of waste materials under National Sword. Different reports on our website suggested tougher times ahead for those exporting metals, paper, plastics and WEEE.

At best, there is uncertainty; at worst, there were growing fears of a total ban on some material streams.

Biffa marked its first set of annual results as a listed company by resurrecting its interest in the energy-from-waste market in the announcement it had signed an exclusive partnership with Covanta to investigate possible schemes in tandem.

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