Contractor Kier, which has terminated a number of local authority waste contracts early, appears to be in the process of exiting the waste services market altogether.
The issue arose in a report to Cheshire West & Chester Council’s cabinet that said the council and Kier had agreed an early termination of their contract and the council would set up its own company.
That report stated: “In the past 18 months, Kier has made a corporate decision to exit the waste market. This has resulted in the early exit of its contracts with various local authorities across the UK including Bristol City Council, the Somerset Waste Partnership and East Sussex Council. Cheshire West and Chester Council represents the only remaining large waste collection contract held by Kier.”
Kier has not denied the claim. But in 2017 the company in fact won a seven-year contract with Bridgend County Borough Council, which was hit by “teething troubles”.
The company’s annual report for 2018 said it would reduce its exposure to the waste market as its existing contracts ended.
It stated: “The operational performance of the environmental services business is stable while markets remain challenging as a result of low recyclate prices. The group is negotiating the termination of one major contract in this business and will continue to reduce its exposure to this market as contracts conclude.”
Environmental services form no apparent part in the report of any of the three divisions – housing, buildings and infrastructure services – into which Kier reorganised itself last year. Nor is waste mentioned in a section of the annual report that describes nine other industries as “our key market sectors”.
Industry analyst Mark Wilson, now managing director of Headpoint Advisers, said: “Kier is exiting the waste business and has been engaged in a number of disposal processes – for example Pure Recycling – and contract resignations/sales.”
Wilson was formerly with the Alantra consultancy, whose survey of the waste sector for 2018 showed Kier Environmental Services as the 12th largest player in the market with revenue of £131.8m. The largest was Veolia at £1.5bn.
Kier entered the waste collection business in 2010 when it bought Pure Recycling and in 2013 it acquired waste services contractor May Gurney.
A Kier spokesperson said: “We continue to be committed to delivering a quality waste management service for all our contracts in the industry. We are a responsible contractor that continues to serve more than 500,000 households each week, with client and customer satisfaction at the heart of our reliable service.”