I have been exchanging emails with a US businessman seeking information on a new technology in the UK waste sector. He says he had seen glowing press releases and news articles about it but “many folks are very sceptical about the process and the hype”.
This was (categorically) not an inquiry about Air Products. But it came coincidentally in the week that the company pulled out of the energy-from-waste sector globally and, more specifically, ended work on its two new gasification plants on Teesside.
Leaving the sector will cost the company around $1bn and hundreds of jobs will go in the north-east. One impact on the waste sector will be to sow further doubt into the minds of future investors about the viability of such technologies – however questionable it may have been to embark on a scheme of this scale in the first place.
We must hope that those promoting other innovative projects, such as that interesting my US correspondent, have got their sums right.
Meanwhile, the bleak outlook for Tata steel plants in the UK seems to have caught the Government – and specifically the business department (BIS) – by surprise. The most intriguing possible solution has come from
Liberty House which would want to switch from blast to arc furnaces at Port Talbot. But that would take a considerable time to achieve and, in the meantime, what happens to the thousands of people working there? Since arc furnaces use scrap rather than virgin materials, that could be a welcome boost to our own ferrous trade but it is far from clear where this will end.
We also learnt that the environment teams at BIS, dealing with matters such as e-waste and packaging recovery notes, have switched to Defra. Former senior Defra waste official Phillip Ward unpicks what it might mean for the resource management industry, particularly in terms of Whitehall’s approach to the circular economy proposals. It’s an illuminating read.
Finally, the shortlist for entries to this year’s National Recycling Awards has been unveiled. As with last year, panels of judges will assess these entries during May ahead of the big night on 6 July. It’s a great evening, so make sure you book a place at the popular event in London.