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WRAP’s latest gate fees survey

WRAP’s annual survey of UK gate fees is underway, and many people who work in councils will soon receive an email survey questionnaire to complete.

The primary audience for the Gate Fees Report is local authorities. The report aims to increase transparency and, by improving the flow of information, improve efficiency in the way that the waste management market operates.

Where information is lacking, a local authority may find it tricky to make informed decisions about the cost of alternative waste management options. So the indicative gate fee information within the report can help to make better informed decisions.

The summary gate fees in the report are largely compiled from council responses to questions about the fees paid at waste treatment, recovery and disposal facilities. Importantly, these responses are confidential.

WRAP publishes only the indicative or summary gate fees and a range for each technology, not individual gate fees, with typical fees reported for the UK, and separately for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This year, for the first time, a detailed picture of gate fees in London will be produced.

A summary report from last year’s survey can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/1UrSNVw

A key finding from the work on gate fees is that, for similar waste management options, they can vary substantially both across and within regions, and for some waste management routes from one year to the next.

So establishing as clearer picture as possible of alternative treatment costs in the UK is vital, particularly at a time when local authority budgets are stretched, and market prices for secondary materials are volatile. The Gate Fees Report provides this as a key resource that all councils can use to help inform local decisions.

The factors which determine specific gate fees at a particular facility are complex and may include a number of variables, such as its age and size, the nature and duration of contracts (including risk-sharing arrangements), financing, the level of revenues generated from the sale of recovered materials and other outputs and prices paid for the management of residues.

But there are some interesting trends that can be discerned from the summary information.

The cost per tonne paid by councils for sending unsorted residual waste or rubbish to disposal routes (landfill sites and energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities) has increased over time, the landfill gate fee (inclusive of tax) having been driven directly by the landfill tax escalator.

This has raised the (median) gate fee inclusive of tax for non-hazardous landfill from £70 per tonne in 2009-10 to around £100 per tonne currently (see graph). And EfW gate fees per tonne of waste have also risen broadly in line with landfill costs since 2010-11, particularly for incinerators that have been operational since 2000.

By contrast, median gate fees for recovery/recycling routes for the management of organics and dry recyclables have been either fairly constant – although clearly declining substantially relative to the cost of disposal options – for composting and anaerobic digestion or declining since 2009-10 for MRFs receiving unsorted dry recyclables.

The success of WRAP’s gate fees survey and the quality of the unique information it provides is hugely dependent on the participation of as many local authorities as possible.

WRAP would like to thank everybody who has been involved in past surveys, and those who will help again. It urges as many as possible to participate to ensure that the best quality information can be collected to help all councils make informed decisions and get the best option for them.

WRAP will be contacting organics waste processing facilities and waste management companies early in the new year.

Peter Mitchell is head of economics, WRAP

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