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BQ2 Special Report: Innovation & Technology in Waste Management
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BQ2 Special Report: Innovation & Technology in Waste Management



We were involved in a lively debate for maximising opportunities in the waste management sector. The sectors desire to support innovation, drive efficiencies and demand quality showed just why it ...

We were involved in a lively debate for maximising opportunities in the waste management sector. The sectors desire to support innovation, drive efficiencies and demand quality showed just why it thrives. Read more above.



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BQ2 Special Report: Innovation & Technology in Waste Management Document Transcript

  • 1. SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT PLANTING A FOOTHOLD Veolia’s vision for the future ON THE CIRCULAR LINE Keeping resources moving WHY LESS IS MORE Cashing in on waste
  • 2. Few sectors have evolved as rapidly as waste management in recent years. Legislation, government targets and the growing appetite for more sustainable practices are conspiring to bring about transformation in the industry. Leaders in the industry continue to innovate with more efficient and lucrative solutions for waste materials. At the same time businesses are switching on to the fact that they can no longer treat waste streams as an afterthought. Amid dwindling resources, rising green demands and soaring waste to landfill taxes, businesses are engaging ever deeper into the world of cutting-edge waste management treatments, recycling and re-use of materials. And businesses in the sector are taking advantage. Across Yorkshire and Humber waste equates to around 7 million tonnes per year. Recent figures show it has achieved one of the greatest proportional declines in waste over recent years. It is clear that there are further opportunities for businesses to improve waste management strategies. By utilising innovation and technology businesses are capable of harnessing waste as an opportunity for growth. Andrew Mernin, Editor SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT WELCOME 04 NEWS The latest stories from the region’s waste management sector 10 OVERVIEW The key trends driving the waste management market forward 14 LEADING THE WAY Veolia talks about its pioneering approach to handling waste 22 BQ LIVE DEBATE How can businesses harness technology and innovation in waste? 30 WHY WASTE IT? Why firms are becoming less wasteful and efficient with their resources 35 BOOSTING ENERGY CIWM president John Skidmore calls for long-term focus from Government 36 PLASTIC FANTASTIC BQ speaks to the man who has made refuse bins and boxes sexy 38 UNLIKELY PARTNERS Associated Waste Management plots its course for growth via Cyprus CONTENTS 30 WHERE LESS IS MORE 03 CONTACTS ROOM501 LTD Christopher March Managing Director e: chris@room501.co.uk Bryan Hoare Director e: bryan@room501.co.uk EDITORIAL Andrew Mernin e: andrewm@room501.co.uk Ruth Lognonne e: ruth@room501.co.uk DESIGN & PRODUCTION room501 e: studio@room501.co.uk PHOTOGRAPHY KG Photography e: info@kgphotography.co.uk Peter Skelton e: peterpsp@mac.com SALES Katie Davies Senior Sales Executive e: katie@room501.co.uk t: 07977 567478 room501 Publishing Ltd, Spectrum 6, Spectrum Business Park, Seaham, SR7 7TT www.room501.co.uk room501 was formed from a partnership of directors who, combined, have many years of experience in contract publishing, print, marketing, sales and advertising and distribution.We are a passionate, dedicated company that strives to help you to meet your overall business needs and requirements. All contents copyright © 2013 room501 Ltd.All rights reserved. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies, howsoever caused. No liability can be accepted for illustrations, photographs, artwork or advertising materials while in transmission or with the publisher or their agents.All information is correct at time of going to print, June 2013. room501 Publishing Ltd is part of BE Group, the UK’s market leading business improvement specialists. www.be-group.co.uk BQ Magazine is published quarterly by room501 Ltd. in association with Reason says: costs could be cut Instinct says: so could the lifeblood Business decisions are rarely black and white. Dynamic organisations know they need to apply both reason and instinct to decision making. We are Grant Thornton and it’s what we do for our clients every day. Contact us to help unlock your potential for growth. ©2012 Grant Thornton UK LLP. All rights reserved. Grant Thornton UK LLP is a member firm within Grant Thornton International Ltd. Grant Thornton International Ltd and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered independently by member firms. Full disclaimer available at grant-thornton.co.uk
  • 3. 0504SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 NEWS SUMMER 13 SUMMER 13 NEWS Seneca makes acquisition, new funding to fuel innovation, social stock exchange launched, AD plant gets green light, university invests in waste innovations and Biffa celebrates Recycle Week INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENTINNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT >> JFS to roll out AD plants North Yorkshire anaerobic digestion developer, JFS, has ambitious plans to build more than 25 AD plants, making up a 2.5% share of the Government’s targeted 1,000 plants. Working on a joint venture basis with farmers and landowners, the Stokesley-based company will start by building two 21m diameter by 6m high concrete tanks at sites in Cumbria and North Yorkshire. Under the programme of works, Newcastle- based construction company Surgo will also build silage clamps and carry out associated drainage and external works on each 7,000sq m site. Once completed each 250kw digester will produce biogas from digested manures, slurries and grass and maize silage. This biogas will then be used to fuel a combined heat and power plant (CHP), which will produce enough electricity for up to 250 homes. In addition, the waste heat from the CHP can be used for domestic heating or further diversification such as grain drying on farms. The digested material is then used on farms as a valuable bio-fertiliser. JFS’s managing director, Peter Johnson said: “We are delighted to be working with Surgo Construction on development of the first two plants. “We have a further four schemes that are due to commence over the next six months. The AD process dovetails perfectly into these existing farm businesses. The Government is encouraging the development of anaerobic digestion across the country. “For the farmers it is a win-win situation.  Without the need to invest any of their own money they benefit from rental income and a percentage of the feed-in tariff, as well as free heat which is generated from burning off the green house gases and finally, they are able use the highly nutritious fertilizer left behind by the waste material, presenting a significant cost saving.”  >> Window of opportunity Waste management consultancy Orchard Environmental in Elland has signed a deal with Bradford-based window and door manufacturer Safestyle UK to oversee waste services at 30 of the firm’s sites nationwide. Part of Style Group UK, Safestyle was established in West Yorkshire in 1992 and has expanded to operate 30 sales offices and 10 installation sites throughout England and Wales, as well as an 18-acre manufacturing facility in Yorkshire. The business has seen growth of ten per cent year-on-year for the past two years. Peter Haigh, of Safestyle UK, said the decision to outsource management of general waste had been taken to streamline administration by creating a single point of contact. “The key benefit for us as a business is to be able to hand over the paperwork and receive one invoice instead of 30 separate ones, which significantly reduces the amount of time we >> SITA gets innovating SITA UK has launched a new offer for customers giving them the chance to reuse the confidential paper that they throw away by creating tissue products for the workplace. Developed in partnership with SCA Hygiene Products, who own the Tork brand, this innovative scheme creates a ‘closed loop’ solution for customers within their own business, giving customers the chance to A new development at the University of Bradford will focus on new innovations around waste management among other areas related to sustainability. The new re:centre has now opened its doors and will provide a new space for research, regeneration, reinvention and rethinking the future. The building was known throughout its building phase as The Sustainable Enterprise Centre, but it is recognised that thinking around sustainability has moved considerably since this project started back in 2007 and the new name will ‘re:flect’ new agendas in a way that is distinctive within Higher Education. The re:centre has been designed to the University’s target driven sustainability specification, delivering the world’s highest ever pre-construction BREEAM rating of 94.95% at award. The building will showcase sustainable development and construction at its best and expand the University’s relationship with the wider community. The re:centre will be used for research and knowledge transfer activities and as an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) ‘learner’ centre. The project has attracted £2.322m capital grant investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. >> University invests in waste innovations Hazardous waste management business Augean saw its revenues increase in the first five months of the year and is now targeting future growth opportunities. Chairman Jim Meredith said at the Wetherby-based firm’s AGM: “In the first five months of 2013, the group has delivered a year on year increase in revenues and cash flow from operations has been positive. Whilst we continue to operate within challenging UK economic conditions, we have been able to leverage the group’s expertise in providing specialist waste management solutions for our customers and have continued to invest in markets which the board is confident will provide growth opportunities in the medium term. In particular, our North Sea Services business has developed its market presence and grown its contribution to the group.” >> Augean is on the up spend on administration,” said Mr Haigh. Justin Holley, of Orchard Environmental, said: “Large companies with multiple sites see an immediate administrative benefit to having their waste managed under one roof and we aim to manage their costs by assessing the market to ensure they are always receiving the best service at the most competitive rates.” Recycling and waste management company Biffa celebrated the 10th anniversary of Recycle Week by inviting local businesses to an open day at its Materials Recovery Facility in Dewsbury in June. A guided tour gave visitors the opportunity to understand how materials are recovered for recycling, and the Biffa team will be on hand to discuss the surprising value of waste. “We are recycling so much more today than we were ten years ago,” said Biffa’s regional general Manager Anthony Holley. “This is due in part to the great effort that people are making to separate materials, but also because of our facilities that can sort everything for onward recycling. The technology has advanced and so much is automated these days – it’s something everyone should see.” In Yorkshire, Biffa operates across four transport depots and has four processing facilities, with a fleet of 81 vehicles. >> Biffa celebrates both recycle then reuse the confidential material that they throw away. The service was introduced following feedback from customers who said they wanted a practical way to demonstrate environmental improvements that they are making. Jerome Mingaz, head of secure shredding at SITA UK said: “‘Shred to tissue’ is a great example of the circular economy in action. SITA UK collects and shreds any confidential paper disposed of by customers, in compliance with all current legislation and standards (EN15713 and BS7858). Once reduced to finely shredded paper, the material is then sent for recycling at SCA’s UK mill based in Prudhoe where it is processed to produce tissue. The tissue is then converted into Tork hygiene paper products for use in washrooms, office buildings, food services, industrial facilities and healthcare organisations. >> Funding pot up for grabs Entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and products in energy efficiency, storage and low carbon generation are being invited by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) to apply for a share of £19m of funding. The cash comes from the second phase of the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund, which has already allocated £16m since autumn 2012 to help bring a range of new and innovative low carbon products to market. The previous phase funded projects including energy storage, heat storage, tidal turbine testing, a thermally-insulating window and an ‘Eco power shower’. The scheme seeks the best ideas from the A new free to use system developed by the Environment Agency designed to record transfers of waste online, has received support from 72 per cent of large to medium sized waste operators who were questioned in a survey. The new system called edoc (electronic duty of care) is set to be rolled out in January 2014 and could save the waste industry time and money.  >> Duty of care praised public and private sector. It particularly aims to assist small and medium sized enterprises, including start-ups. Energy secretary Ed Davey visited one of the previous winners, Yorkshire Water near Bradford, where he said: “We’re on the side of innovative businesses and individuals with drive, passion, ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. “This funding will get ideas off the ground and into the market, create new green jobs, and help the UK get ahead in the innovation global race. An ambitious and driven small business sector can steer the economic recovery in the right direction. So I want to see Britain’s brightest and best SMEs sending in their applications.” In Bradford, Davey viewed Yorkshire Water’s facility to process blends of sewage sludge by thermal hydrolysis and anaerobic digestion, and he will learn about the ATC gasification process, developed by Yorkshire Water and their technical partners Intervate. The process uses sewage sludge with other waste feedstocks such as low grade waste wood and refuse-derived fuels to produce renewable electricity and heat. The project received £1m of funding in Phase One of the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund.
  • 4. SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 is an important strategic acquisition for the company. “The deal involved negotiations with joint owners, including a listed company, and called for a mix of skills on our side including corporate finance and in-depth knowledge of the way the waste and recycling industries operate. “Seneca brings a lot of experience, cutting- edge ideas and know-how to the Peckfield site and the acquisition will add further to the company’s portfolio.” Seneca Global Energy is part of a group which operates a number of landfill sites and waste treatment units across the country with plans for further development. Paul Hornshaw, director at Seneca Global Energy, said: “This acquisition is an important one in the context of the continuing development of Seneca across the country. “We chose Ward Hadaway as our legal adviser for the deal because of their experience in this sector and their expertise in corporate finance matters. 07INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT06 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT NEWS SUMMER 13 SUMMER 13 NEWS >> Waste plant set to be built Construction work on Veolia’s new plant in Leeds is expected to get underway in the coming weeks, after official planning permission was granted in April.  The facility, to be built on the Cross Green Industrial Estate, will provide Leeds with a long-term solution to waste going to landfill. Up to 214,000 tonnes of Leeds’ black bin waste will go through the facility a year. Recyclable materials will be removed with the remainder being incinerated. The process will generate enough electricity to power up to 20,000 homes. Veolia has also agreed to make a significant sum of money available annually to support projects in the local area that provide sustainable benefits. It has also agreed to share any excess money made from selling electricity and recyclable materials with the council, a significant proportion of which would also be used to support local projects. Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment said: >>Landfill deterrent Charities and community groups across York and North Yorkshire are being urged to apply for grants to fund projects that will help prevent reusable goods ending up in landfill. The York and North Yorkshire Waste Partnership’s Community Reuse Fund supports existing community re-use projects or new projects that will prevent waste. Projects funded so far have included collection, refurbishing and re-use of items like furniture, textiles or other household items. Other projects have given people the skills or information they need to reuse things, through workshops or locally organised community events.”Re-use is a priority for York and North Yorkshire.” said County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for waste management. “We want to encourage charities and community groups to get involved and this funding enables organisations to make a real difference in their area. It also plays an important part in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.” The maximum grant available is £5,000 and applicants will be expected to raise at least 25 per cent match funding in cash towards project costs. The deadline for applications is Friday 9 August 2013. >> Green light for new plant City of York Council has given the green light to Peel Environmental’s plans for an anaerobic digestion and horticultural glasshouse facility on the former North Selby Mine site at New Road, Wheldrake. The council’s planning committee approved plans for the facility by nine votes to six. The plant will recover heat and electricity from up to 60,000 tonnes of organic waste per year  – generating renewable electricity to power  around 3,500 homes. A horticultural glasshouse, which will use some of the heat produced, will be developed alongside the facility and operated by Howden-based specialist Plant Raisers to propagate mainly tomato plants. Richard Barker, development manager at Peel Environmental said: There are significant benefits that our plans will bring to the local area and we are keen to see these delivered. “The facility will provide an economic boost to the area, providing up to 256 jobs during construction, 56 full time positions and 50 seasonal positions during operation, with the impact of these in the region of £2.2m Gross Value Added (GVA) per year. It will also facilitate the expansion of a successful Yorkshire business.” The £23.5m project will use the process of anaerobic digestion (AD) to treat organic commercial and industrial waste and produce 1.5MW of heat and up to 2.75MW of electricity. This will also produce up to 30,000 tonnes of digestate each year which could be used by local farmers as a bio - fertiliser. Growing resource recovery and renewable energy company Seneca Global Energy has acquired Caird Barton Ltd, which operates a landfill site and recycling centre at Peckfield near Leeds. Hartlepool-based Seneca Global Energy has bought the shares in the company from joint owners Aggregate Industries and Shanks Group plc for an undisclosed sum. Law firm Ward Hadaway advised Seneca on the deal. Seneca is planning to enhance activities at the Peckfield site, bringing in a series of operational and environmental changes to further improve the site, which deals with 400,000 tonnes of waste from the Leeds area every year. The company will also look to boost recycling rates at Peckfield and invest further in the site. Mark Whitehead, partner and head of the energy and utilities team at Ward Hadaway, led the firm’s team advising Seneca Global Energy on the acquisition. He said: “We are delighted to have assisted Seneca Global Energy on what >> Seneca acquisition Mark Whitehead, Ward Hadaway Waste collection and recycling products business Straight plc has become a founding member of the Social Stock Exchange, the first platform to showcase publicly listed social impact businesses. The exchange’s focus is to provide more information to the market and investors on companies with constructive social and environmental impact. The aim is to generate more investment, growth, and ultimately a global capital marketplace for common cause and greater good. Jonathan Straight, chief executive of the Leeds based business, said: “This is clearly a platform which corresponds to our own interests and goals. I firmly believe that our business will benefit from the increased >> Social Stock Exchange >> Government boost The government-backed Green Investment Bank (GIB) has announced it is looking to provide up to £50m of debt financing for anaerobic digestion (AD) projects. “These are really significant milestones for a project that will save us around £200m compared to the cost of landfilling waste over the lifetime of the contract. “This is an important long-term partnership and when we take into account other improvements to waste services that we’re making, we can confidently say that we are delivering a sustainable plan to make Leeds cleaner and greener.” Paul Fowler, Veolia Environmental Services’ Leeds General Manager said: “As well as the financial and environmental savings the facility will bring to the city, we’re committed to providing a boost to the local economy through job creation. “Around three hundred temporary jobs will be created during the construction phase of the facility. Once operational there will be around 45 permanent posts, both technical and non-technical, and we’re working closely with Leeds City Council to deliver opportunities for apprenticeships, work placements and work experience schemes for local people.” See page 14 for more on Veolia’s new plant. Retail giant Sainsbury’s has followed in the footsteps of M&S by announcing it has achieved its zero waste to landfill goal seven years ahead of schedule. The supermarket chain said its 20x20 Sustainability Plan to put all waste to positive use had been achieved within three years. Surplus food that can’t be used by its charity partners is now processed into animal feed to support British farmers or used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion, the company says. All general waste from stores is recycled or turned into fuel. Driven by its ‘Plan A’ initiative, M&S achieved its target of sending zero waste to landfill last year. >> Sainsbury’s hits target The commitment came as the bank published its first market report since launching last November. AD, the breakdown of organic matter like food waste, slurry and crop residues, into biogas and digestate, avoids food and agricultural waste going to landfill, in addition to being a renewable source of energy and fertiliser. Adrian Judge, the bank’s managing director for waste and bioenergy, was reported as saying: “Although the AD market has indicated that it is in need of debt funding, equity may be more appropriate in many cases due to the youth of the market. “AD is rightly at the heart of the Government’s waste policies and GIB’s waste investment strategy. It provides a green and efficient way of managing waste, whilst providing both energy and fertiliser. For organic waste, AD is a cost-effective and sustainable waste management option.” The University of Bradford has been ranked among the top 10 greenest, most ethical and environmentally-friendly UK universities. Its success was attributed to its strong sustainable estate management. Some of the successful areas have included >> Green credentials sustainable new builds, refurbishments, carbon reduction, waste management and campus development. The university was awarded a First Class Award and ranked 9 out of 143 universities in the People & Planet Green League 2013 – the UK’s only comprehensive and independent green ranking of universities. Vice chancellor Mark Cleary, said: “The University is dedicated to sustainability; it is built into our decision making process. We are proud to continue to set high standards with our Ecoversity programme.” The People & Planet Green League, an annual ranking by the national student campaign group, assesses the environmental and ethical performance of all universities, awarding First Class ‘degrees’ to the greenest and a Fail to those doing the least to address their environmental impacts.” exposure to investors seeking social and environmental impacts through the deployment of their funds.” See page 42 for more on Straight plc.
  • 5. 09 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT08SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT that are now being stifled by the difficulty of raising finance – as well as the local newspaper fodder of local opposition to plants from residents. In business in general, meanwhile, there is a growing awareness of the opportunities to be had by treating what was once regarded as waste as a resource. At the sharp end are the university spinouts and entrepreneurs who are sourcing waste materials and transforming them through science and endeavour into new products. (See page 18 for report on companies doing this with products for the built environment). For SMEs in the supply chain of corporations much larger then themselves, waste management pressures are being imposed heavily upon them by their paymasters. Giant SUMMER 13 OVERVIEWOVERVIEW SUMMER 13 As one waste management leader remarked at our live debate featured in this issue: “We’re talking to some weird and wonderful people these days that I never imagined we would be”. He was referring to the vast spread of an industry whose boundaries are moving rapidly outwards into unchartered territories. Few sectors are changing so dramatically as waste, with environmental, legislative and financial pressures driving new innovations and opportunities. Businesses of all size and sector are recognising the cost, profit and sustainability advantages of clearer focus on their resources and those with solutions to help them are reaping rewards. In Yorkshire a growing army of start-ups and SMEs is breaking new ground with their waste- related products and services. The big players, with landfill avoidance targets to hit, are becoming cleverer with what they do with the millions of tonnes of waste being fed into their plants. On the back of financial support from the Government, recent years have seen large-scale waste to energy plants sprouting up across the UK. In Yorkshire, the latest example of this is the vast plant Veolia will open in Leeds in 2016 to service its 25-year contract with Leeds City Council for residual municipal waste treatment and energy recovery. The plant’s development has been backed by the Government’s Waste Infrastructure Grants, which have allocated £3.6bn in grant funding to 29 local authority waste infrastructure projects. The grants are paid over a 25-year operating life of each project. Controversially, the grants scheme came to an abrupt end earlier this year when the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) withdrew the scheme since it believes there is no need for further facilities to be developed in order for the UK to meet its targets under the EU Landfill Directive in 2020. This led to authorities in Bradford and North Yorkshire seeing their plans for new plants surprisingly scuppered. The Residual Waste Infrastructure Review, published by environmental consultant, Eunomia in June said that the UK’s local authorities and industrial customers now generate close to 28 million tonnes a year of waste. It reported in the FT that the handling capacity of plants, either operating or under construction, able to deal with waste suitable for diversion from landfill now stands at around 18 million tonnes a year, leaving a “capacity gap” of about 10 million tonnes. At the same time, increasingly tight financial conditions are forcing the larger waste management firms into choices between cost cutting or investment in new efficiencies and technology to obtain more valuable materials from their collections and steer clear of landfill. Many of the bigger players in the sector are reported to be winding down some of their landfill assets as the landfill tax eats ever deeper into their earnings. Next April the tax will increase from £72 to £80 a tonne for waste sent to landfill. And as experts tell BQ in this issue, there is an expectation within the industry that such conditions will present new opportunities to small to medium operators offering alternative options such as anaerobic digestion or recycled solid fuel for export markets. Among these smaller operators the major challenge being battled against is getting finance, rather than the traditionally tough process of gaining planning permission. As Eunomia’s research shows, the number of projects being initiated after planning consent SQUARING THE CIRCLE Having been empowered with a crucial role to save dwindling resources and protect the environment, waste management’s star is on the rise and extending its reach into previously untapped areas. Andrew Mernin reports on the challenges and opportunities driving innovation in the sector here in Yorkshire Where once waste was a domain reserved for the rubbish collectors left to deal with other people’s problems, now everyone wants a piece of the action retailers like M&S and Tesco are responding to customer demand for more sustainability by reaching down into their supply chains and setting out their own waste management ground rules. It is all part of what one resourceful entrepreneur describes in these pages as the “stalking horse” of the circular economy. The Waste Framework Directive lays down a hierarchy of options for managing wastes and gives top priority to preventing waste in the first place. When waste is created, it gives priority to preparing it for re-use, then recycling, then other recovery such as energy recovery, and last of all disposal (for example landfill). The idea is to keep resources in circulation for longer and eliminating waste out of the manufacturing process by going right back to the design phase. It’s a trend on the rise and one which is becoming increasingly intertwined with the traditional waste management process. Where once waste was a domain reserved for the rubbish collectors left to deal with other people’s problems, now everyone wants a piece of the action. And, with resources dwindling and environmental pressures growing, the result of these new collaborations, ideas and technologies can only be a good thing for all concerned. n
  • 6. Although the waste management sector hasn’t been immune to recent recessionary conditions, it has continued to be very busy this year as industries and governments continue to strive to meet national and European targets. The Landfill and Waste Framework Directives have been in place for some time but their targets need to be met in the run-up to 2015 and 2020 respectively, so there is a continuing need to develop waste management facilities in order to divert sufficient quantities away from landfill and increase recovery and recycling activities. In terms of technology, standard energy from waste and mass burn incineration continue to dominate the market. In the UK, amid the drive to meet long-term recovery targets, the focus has been on larger-scale energy from waste mass burn facilities. But they have been supported by the government-backed Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits which were withdrawn by Defra earlier this year, leaving some major projects in jeopardy. Among them was Bradford and Calderdale Council’s planned waste facility which was reliant on £62.1m of PFI backing and had been five years in the planning, before the plug was pulled on its funding. The council has recently lodged a judicial review challenge Defra’s decision to withdraw the credits. Going forward I believe we will see the rise of small and medium-sized facilities. To date PFI funded projects have been the focus and smaller projects, often reliant on bank and private equity finance, have been more difficult to get off the ground. At the same time the banks have continued to be risk averse and nervous about investing in those sorts of projects. We have seen situations where a site has planning permission and has shown it can deal with waste and recycle it, but, because it’s not backed up with long-term contracts like the bigger plants, funding has been more difficult to secure. And so financing, rather than planning, has become the major hurdle. But we can not rely entirely on the large-scale facilities to meet targets and smaller bespoke facilities, ideally turning waste into heat and power, will be needed in the coming years to meet our increasing waste reduction and renewable energy generation demands. >> WASTE NOT, WANT NOT While private and public sector opportunities for innovative waste management solutions continue to grow, challenges remain in proving the technology works and meeting the stringent demands of the market. Here waste management expert and dealmaker Claire Brook, partner at Bond Dickinson in Leeds, checks the pulse of the sector and analyses key trends driving it forward SUMMER 13 OVERVIEWOVERVIEW SUMMER 13 11 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT10SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT
  • 7. 1312SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT stifled the growth of pyrolysis and gasification. While demonstration plants elsewhere in Europe are showing the technologies can work with certain waste streams at a certain scale, the difficulty has been in scaling them up to deal with less homogenous waste streams. There may well be a role for gasification and / or pyrolysis for certain wastes on a smaller scale in the future to deal with the gap for small and medium-sized facilities. There are lots of other innovative technologies that have crossed my desk lately which are continuing to struggle for the funding they need to get off the ground. I’ve seen numerous technologies which may well work in theory but invariably there are difficulties demonstrating at scale. But we are not going to meet all our waste targets and energy demand with the big facilities. One of the challenges is to encourage the banks and other funders to recognise that they can not base their investments in waste management projects purely on the model of long-term contracts. There is a need to develop these smaller scale facilities and three to five year contracts, as opposed to 25-year ones, should be recognised to be typical for such projects. At the same time investors need to ensure they choose to invest in the right project and there is no substitute for thorough due dilligence in that regard.n Materials recovery facility (MRF) technology is getting more sophisticated and improving the ability to separate out valuable recyclabes like plastics, glass and metals. Recently these plants have attracted some criticism, however, for the amount they are exporting out of the UK. As well as the solid recovered fuel (SRF) and refuse derived fuel (RDF) which is leaving our shores due to a lack of capacity in the UK, plastics are being exported to China in order to meet our recycling targets because there isn’t a sufficient established market for it here. Industry consensus is that we should be developing the markets here and keeping value within the UK. Depending on how well recovered it is, there is a UK market for recycled plastic but it’s a question of the quality of material produced. With a ‘dirty’ MRF, in some cases the plastic that comes out does not meet the desired specification in the UK market and is exported. But now we are seeing a trend developing where Chinese manufacturers are telling us in some cases our plastic does not meet their standards as it’s contaminated and not clean enough for their needs. This may drive change in the market. Longer term, we should also be able to keep more SRF and RDF in this country with the construction of a number of energy from waste plants currently in the pipeline. In terms of less mainstream waste recovery technologies, the government has been very keen to advance anaerobic digestion (AD). But while this process has been proven to work for certain waste streams it has been slower to take off due to higher costs, difficulties in securing finance and the need to develop a market for the digestate. For food waste, ideally, separate household collection schemes need to be set up – a process which can come with considerable additional cost. Recently, however, there has been an increase in AD facilities consented and the technology is gaining some momentum together with improvements in financial incentives. Pyrolysis (which involves the thermochemical decomposition of organic material at high temperatures) and gasification are other technologies that have been around for years but have never really fulfilled their potential in the UK. The public sector appetite for more reliable mass burn incinerators has arguably There is a need to develop smaller scale facilities and three to five year contracts SUMMER 13 OVERVIEWOVERVIEW SUMMER 13
  • 8. 1514SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT Councils in Yorkshire were left reeling earlier this year when the Government pulled the plug on a combined £127m of funding that would have backed two major waste projects in the region. Bradford and Calderdale had £62.1m of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits removed from its waste treatment plant project in Bradford, while North Yorkshire and City of York saw the removal of £65m in PFI backing, which was allocated towards a waste park and incinerator in Allerton. PFI credits have been an important means of funding for local authorities in recent years to back the development of large-scale waste projects. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had decided – unfairly and unpredictably according to some vocal opposers – that the 29 current waste infrastructure projects worth £3.6bn that are being built were quite enough for the UK to meet its EU targets on reducing waste sent to landfill. And so in February three projects – including a planned plant on Merseyside – fell by the wayside, for the time being at least, despite much preparation in the preceding years. Applications for judicial reviews have since been launched and the situation remains a cloudy affair. Leeds City Council, then, may feel fortunate that its project with environmental services giant Veolia got the green light before Defra’s change of heart on similar projects. Work will begin in August on the plant on the Cross Green Industrial Estate that will provide Leeds with a long-term solution to waste going to landfill. Up to 214,000 tonnes of Leeds’ black bin waste will go through the facility each year, with recyclable materials removed and the remainder being incinerated. The process will generate enough electricity to power up to 20,000 homes. “These are really significant milestones for a project that will save us around £200m compared to the cost of landfilling waste over the lifetime of the contract,” said Councillor Mark Dobson after official planning permission was granted in April. It came after Veolia signed a 25-year PFI deal reportedly worth around £460m. According to Veolia’s Paul Fowler, who will serve as general manager of the plant, technology will play a vital role ensuring the successful delivery of the project. >> 15 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT VEOLIA’S VISION COMES INTO FOCUS A new space-age addition to the Leeds skyline which will form over the next two years promises to deliver a pioneering approach to handling household waste in the city, saving hundreds of millions of pounds in the process. Andrew Mernin meets Veolia’s Paul Fowler to find out more 14SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SUMMER 13 INTERVIEW
  • 9. 1716SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT The plant puts recycling and energy recovery on one site and, of the black bin rubbish collected from the city, up to 20% will be taken out of the waste stream for recycling. This material will include mixed plastics, mixed paper, cardboard, and metals including food and drink cans. As the operation of the facility develops, it may be possible to separate other recyclates, further improving the overall recycling rate. “It is quite a pioneering plant because it combines the two important elements of recycling and energy recovery at the same location which is rare,” Fowler says. “We launch in 2016 and we’ll probably be one of the first facilities that incorporates this combination of technology in the UK. “One of the barriers to this type of plant in the past may have been the limited technology available in terms of sorting equipment. But this has now matured and, by learning from other technologies [in other sectors] combining the two elements has become a viable solution.” Although not being used in the new Leeds plant, an example of the technological advancement happening within the sector is Veolia’s new ‘Magpie’ system used within its materials recycling facilities on mixed dry recyclable materials. It enables recyclables to be repeatedly sent under a single optical separating machine, instead of several machines being used to sort different materials. An infra-red beam scans the molecular structure of materials, to identify the most valuable materials first. These are then separated off onto another belt using an air nozzle. Veolia says the approach has particular benefits for sorting a number of types of plastics and could allow councils to collect a wider range of plastics at the kerbside using a single bin. Fowler says: “Because we have multiple types of plastics at these recycling plants, for example, rather than having to send them off as a less valuable mixed plastic stream to re-processors, we can basically target the most prevalent type on the belt until such time that another type pops up. “So we’re re-passing the remaining recyclable material through the Magpie until we end up with multiple valuable plastic streams without the need for multiple NIRs [near infra-red scanners] in series on a long conveyor belt, which is inefficient.” In terms of energy generation at the Leeds plant, meanwhile, the heat from the waste that is burned will be used to turn water into steam. This will then power turbines to generate around 11MW of electricity for export to the National Grid. In the future, the plant could also be used to generate thermal energy which could be used to heat buildings or for manufacturing processes locally, and talks are now underway to map out how this would work. Meanwhile, the water used in the process is recycled. The bottom ash that comes out of the end of the process, which can contain gravel-like remnants of glass, brick, stone, concrete and ceramics, will be recycled into construction aggregate, which SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT replaces quarried material in the production of asphalt and cement. With so many complex processes happening under one roof the plant will create several technical roles with the 45-strong team needed to run it. “Some people think of waste management facilities as a load of people in a cabin picking out waste, which is not the reality. It’s an extremely technical operation,” he says. Unsurprisingly for a group that employs 64,291 worldwide (as precisely stated on its website), its research and development process is largely centralised. But Fowler says the Leeds plant will play its part in driving innovation in the sector. “When the plant is fully operational, we will take a lot of data on a daily basis across the site and share our findings and ideas as part of the process of sharing best practice across the group.” Looking forward to how plants like his may evolve in years to come, Fowler says: “We are always looking at what’s on the horizon and which policies might affect developments in a particular direction. Anaerobic digestion is an area that’s not really achieved the sort of growth the Government was anticipating when it started making grants available, so I think there’s still quite a bit of room for that to develop and it’s a valuable area in terms of generating renewable electricity for the country as part of its overall energy strategy. “I think it’s still got a way to go but over the next five years we’ll see more and more development in that field. Maybe we’ll also see smaller-scale facilities being built going forward which are more modular in nature that can be expanded as and when needed.” In the longer term he also envisages the rise of facilities that combine materials recycling with manufacturing lines. “As people are more conscious about their carbon footprint and where their waste is being transported, they’ll focus less on price and more on environmental impact and I think we’ll see a growing development of facilities in the UK that can actually manufacture recovered waste into products.” In the meantime, his focus is on the technology that exists now which will be at the heart of the Leeds plant, although he admits that this will be in a constant state of flux as advancements are made. “The technology is continually improving and being refined to target different materials,” he says. Ahead of the start of the construction process, Veolia will hold a meet-the-supplier event in late July at which local suppliers and subcontractors can meet principal civil construction contractor Clugston Construction Ltd. A presentation will give an overview of who Clugston are and how local companies can become part of their supply chain. It also offers an opportunity for smaller subcontractors and suppliers to meet with larger companies in the area, where it may deliver opportunities outside of the development of the RERF. n More information available at www.veoliaenvironmentalservices.co.uk/Leeds/ It is pioneering because it combines the two elements of recycling energy recovery at the same location. We’ll probably be one of the first facilities that incorporates this technology in the UK 17 An artist’s impression of the new Veolia waste plant in Leeds INTERVIEW SUMMER 13 SUMMER 13 INTERVIEW
  • 10. RIDING THE CIRCULAR LINE The concept of waste management is dying out, says one Yorkshire University, as the rise of the circular economy gathers pace. Andrew Mernin meets Professor Peter Hopkinson to find out why his institution is leading the drive for a new world order in waste Take all the orange peel waste from Brazil’s vast juice industry. Throw in some simple science to extract the valuable elements locked within. The result? A collection of chemicals, materials and fuel potentially worth more than the juice they were used to make in the first place. In America, meanwhile, one bright company is now growing a polystyrene packaging replacement out of mushrooms. Agricultural waste goes in at one end and at the other comes a product that, once used, will biodegrade in soil and can even be eaten. Then there’s the young Tanzanian woman who has created a high-grade fertiliser product out of coffee waste which is a powerful substrate for growing, incidentally, mushrooms. Bigger players too are embracing this circular economic model - like Vodafone with its ‘Red Hot’ phone leasing project and M&S through its support of Oxfam’s clothes recycling initiative, ‘Shwopping’. “All waste is a failure,” says Peter Hopkinson whose paymaster, Bradford University, has just launched the world’s first MBA on the circular economy. Practising what it preaches, the university is also in the process of opening its new sustainable enterprise centre, which is built out of hemp and timber and has received the world’s highest ever pre-construction BREEAM sustainable building specification rating of 94.95%. “What we’re interested in is cycling resources through the economy for longer and for greater value and keeping them moving,” says Hopkinson, who is director of the new ‘re:centre’ and professor of innovation and environmental strategy at the university. “It’s about taking a waste product and cycling it into something that’s more valuable than the original raw materials,” he adds. “I think the waste management term is becoming obsolete. It’s a real negative problem-based term and I’ve always referred to it as resource productivity.” Part of the new centre’s focus will be on bringing global opportunities around sustainable business into Yorkshire and also on helping businesses in the surrounding area become less wasteful and more efficient. Built on the back of £2.7m of ERDF funding, it aims to foster new sustainable start- ups and support knowledge transfer between business and academia, with a remit to “re- think resources; re-think business and re-think the future”. In terms of transforming wasted resources into profitable opportunities, though, its outlook is global. The university has a partnership programme with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which works with business and education to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy. Through this arrangement and the university’s network of other links, Hopkinson is now embroiled in a hunt to find new innovations around the world that have the potential to create new business or collaborative research opportunities in Yorkshire. “We are trying to find people who we think can operate in this innovation area, whether we can transfer ideas from different >> SUMMER 13 INSIGHTINSIGHT SUMMER 13 In Peter Hopkinson’s presence, the word ‘waste’ should be whispered for he sees it as a marker of failure. The Bradford University professor believes in the not-too-distant future, talk will be only of resources and the circular economy. Here’s a few reasons why: 2 trillion dollars: Potential value of the adoption of the circular economy to the global economy £446bn: Size of savings in consumer goods material alone by adopting circular economy practices £995m: Size of income stream that could be generated annually in the UK alone for municipalities and investors by collecting household food waste and processing it to generate biogas and return nutrients to agricultural soils £1,257: Revenue per tonne of clothing that could be generated in the UK if collected, remade, and sold at current prices, comfortably outweighing the cost of £433 required to collect and sort each tonne 20%: Size of cost reduction per hectolitre of beer sold to consumers that would be possible across all markets by shifting from disposable to reusable glass bottles, which would lower the cost of packaging, processing, and distribution 50%: Material cost savings that could be made in mobile phone manufacturing through the adoption of effective ‘remanufacturing’ practices SOURCE: Research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and management consultancy McKinsey & Company Ever-increasing circles – the circular economy in numbers 19 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT18SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT
  • 11. 21 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT20SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT parts of the world or find examples here in Yorkshire.” Given financial research on the circular economy, success in Hopkinson’s search for innovative waste-related ideas could mean big business for the university and, perhaps, the wider Yorkshire region. The adoption of the circular economy could be worth in excess of two trillion dollars to the global economy, according to research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and management consultancy McKinsey & Company. The report also claims that savings in consumer goods material alone by adopting circular economy practices could be worth £446bn globally. Other standout figures include the estimated £995m that could be generated annually in the UK by collecting household food waste and processing it to generate biogas and return nutrients to agricultural soils. There’s also the estimated cost reduction of 20% per hectolitre of beer sold to consumers that would be possible by shifting from disposable to reusable glass bottles, the report says. In accessing what is shaping up to be such a lucrative game, Hopkinson seeks inspiration from the likes of the Americans growing mushroom polystyrene and the Tanzanian coffee fertiliser entrepreneur – both of which he has had discussions with through his links with the foundation. Among the other waste innovators that have particularly impressed him is a firm making hydro-degradable bags which could revolutionise the way hospital waste is handled by enabling entire bags to be thrown into cleaning or sterilising machines, with the bag disappearing in the process. He’s also watching global trends being played out around the world. These include the growth of ‘collaborative consumption’ – such as joint car ownership schemes – and the embracing by manufacturers of the rise of DIY repair culture among consumers. This, says Hopkinson, is being driven by iFixit, an online repair manual for anything from phones and gadgets to cars and trucks that users can update in a similar vein as Wikipedia. “The phone companies are embracing it and the manufacturers are quite interested because it’s helping them decide how they design their products. They are seeing the writing on the wall, a bit like what happened with pirate music downloads.” Closer to home, though, the university is keen to collaborate with its peers around the UK. The orange peel waste project that has so impressed him actually involved the University of York, not Bradford. The Orange Peel Exploitation Company (OPEC) was formed to look at valorising waste orange peels using safe and sustainable chemistry and Being innovative to turn waste into something of value does not always require high-grade technology or clever chemical processes to extract raw materials. Sometimes it’s just a case of seeing an old product in a new light – just ask Emma Hill who, after spending over a decade working at Bradford Environmental Action Trust, recently launched Re-considered – a social enterprise and co-operative dedicated to sustainable resource use. “We want to work with businesses to take advantage of some of these opportunities that are coming up around waste and finding solutions for them and commercial opportunities,” she says. Taking up some space at Bradford University’s new re:centre, she is involved in a number of collaborative projects, including one with a furniture maker to explore applications for recycled textiles in upmarket furniture. She says: “I can’t see it continuing forever where businesses will continue to put products on the market without having a thought for what’s going to happen to that at the end of its life.” Here are Emma’s top tips for businesses looking to improve the way they manage waste: • Do an audit or review of your waste. Look at how much waste your business is creating. • Think about the true cost of your waste. If you are a manufacturer, for example, the real cost is vastly higher than the actual cost if you’re buying in the raw materials to replace those that are leaving the business as waste. • Are you getting the best value from your waste management provider? Prices can vary enormously and sometimes if their costs come down they don’t pass that on to customers unless they specifically ask. So keep asking. • Double check that any waste management firms you use are actually licensed to handle your waste legally – you may be surprised at what you find. • If there’s a pay-by-weight option, rather than bin volume, take it. It can be a great incentive to cut your waste. Waste management tips from a champion of the circular economy was developed through a partnership between researchers in the University of York alongside its counterparts in Sao Paulo and Cordoba. Its long-term objective is to produce valuable biomass-derived chemicals, materials and fuels from waste orange. And Hopkinson believes ignoring such expertise on his faculty’s own doorstep would be folly. Pooling the expertise of other universities – such as York’s chemicals prowess – is key to tapping into circular economy opportunities, he says. “No university has all the expertise so we are trying to operate on an open innovation model. We need many problems solving in the waste management sector and you need to be open to academics and bright ideas from across the world. “We’ll be using the internet to collectively problem solve in a particular location or industry, so digital platforms are obviously very important and we may link up with universities in China, America or anywhere else. “The perspective we take is always to try and push thinking and action upstream right back to the design stage where huge business models are operating to provide products and services right across the range.” So how can Yorkshire businesses get involved in the university’s global push to find resource- driven opportunities? “SMEs can come into the re:centre and test products, they can be part of what we are trying to achieve, rub shoulders with my people, take some office space or desk space. “As part of our offering, we also have some ERDF funding to offer 12 hours worth of free waste management audits to any companies based in Yorkshire and the Humber.” Other funding opportunities are available through the centre, including innovation vouchers and knowledge transfer partnerships (KTP), while innovation clubs, workshops and networking events will start there from September (see Bradford.ac.uk for details). “If you bring your idea or your problem to us as a business, we’ll work through it and see whether we can be of benefit.” In the meantime the new circular economy MBA has begun to turn heads internationally, with enquiries coming in from as far afield as Brazil, Nigeria and Japan since the programme was first announced earlier this year. Developed in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and leading businesses including B&Q, BT, Cisco, Renault and National Grid, it will be delivered through the distance learning platform of Bradford’s School of Management. Speaking at the launch, Euan Sutherland, group chief executive of the Co-operative Group said: “The time is coming when it will no longer make economic sense for ‘business as usual’ and the circular economy will thrive. “We must take steps now to see what works in practice and to understand the implications of reworking business models. We have the opportunity to lead this change by rethinking the way we do business because the reality is, it isn’t a choice any more.’” Needless to say, Hopkinson agrees. “Today’s economic conditions, characterised by increased price volatility and scarcity on the energy and resources fronts, require a change in perspective,” he says. And he is certainly helping to achieve that here in Yorkshire. n SUMMER 13 INSIGHTINSIGHT SUMMER 13 No university has all the expertise so we are trying to operate on an open innovation model. We need many problems solving and you need to be open to academics and bright ideas from across the world The time is coming when it will no longer make economic sense for ‘business as usual’ and the circular economy will thrive. We must take steps now to see what works in practice
  • 12. 2322SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT Unlike many sectors stuck in a state of stagnation, waste management is locked in acceleration mode, despite lingering funding, planning and technology challenges. In fact, so rapid has been the pace of change in the industry in recent years, that leaders within it are now pondering whether it’s time for a re-brand or re-classification or its own ‘2.0’ moment. Discourse continues to speed away from the idea of waste material as a ‘problem’ and industry leaders are increasingly seeing it as a potentially lucrative opportunity. At the same time, technology and new ways of thinking are driving waste out of the manufacturing equation at the earliest stage possible, with recognition that small tweaks at the design phase can avoid big problems further down the chain. With things moving so fast, then, the BQ Live debate was an excellent opportunity for key players in the sector to take stock of the way the market is moving and discuss how best to maximise the emerging opportunities. William Firth highlighted the gains to be made with scalable technology. “What I mean by that is technology which is taken to the source of waste as opposed to waste being taken to the facility itself. We’ve just invested in a small-scale, on-farm anaerobic digestion business and that system and technology will service a dairy farm that typically produces slurry and excess silage to become renewable energy to put in that system. So we’re seeing scalable technology as being the real way forward for us.” Steve Lee: “It strikes me that we’re in the middle of changing. We’re still sending something like 40 million tonnes of waste a year to landfill in this country but it’s almost unrecognisable compared to the industry that I came into 30-odd years ago. We are an industry in transition and we are going to have to learn to stop talking about ourselves as the waste management industry. We really have to get on the front foot because the rest of the globe is going to want to start talking to us about resource efficiency and resource security. And that’s either going to be by stopping being an industry that says, ‘I’ll take those skips away for you for the best price’, and actually starting to talk to our customers to say, ‘I’ll help you present less waste to me’. We have got to start talking to our customers about value-added in association with AN END TO WASTED OPPORTUNITIES TAKING PART Martin Helstrip, managing director, GW Butler Healthcare Management William Firth, managing director, Sustainable Resource Solutions Steve Lee, chief executive, Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) Neil Evans, director for environment and neighbourhoods, Leeds City Council Neil Williams, regional director, Yorkshire & Humberside, Santander Corporate & Commercial Lukas Rootman, partner, Nabarro Tim Shapcott, business development director, Associated Waste Management Paul Fowler, general manager, Veolia Environmental Services (UK) John Brooksbank, managing director, Associated Waste Management Oliver Hoffman, corporate finance partner, Mazars Steve Crow, business development director, Clarion David Stuart, relationship director, Yorkshire & Humberside, Santander Corporate & Commercial Jonathan Rostron, deputy regional director, Yorkshire and Humberside, Santander Corporate Banking In the chair: Caroline Theobald BQ Live venue: Restaurant Bar & Grill, Leeds BQ is highly regarded as a leading independent commentator on business issues, many of which have a bearing on the current and future success of the region’s business economy. BQ Live is a series of informative debates designed to further contribute to the success and prosperity of our regional economy through the debate, discussion and feedback of a range of key business topics and issues. The issue: How can businesses harness technology and innovation in waste management to improve their profitability and maximise return on investment? SUMMER 13 DEBATE services and it’s all about resource efficiency and resource security. That might sound a bit ‘beam me up Scotty’ but we are getting very close to some serious resource issues. At the minute we are posting a lot of our secondary resources elsewhere in the world because they are going to be turned into the next fridge or plastic toy. We need to find a way of working with central and local government so that we can make economic development and real resource management work for us. At the moment we’re in the middle of adhoc solutions and there’s no big picture.” Neil Evans: “There is a lot of truth in what you’re saying. A place like Leeds will see waste in connection with things like an energy strategy. And actually the interest is in how can you get a greater self-reliance on energy and cushion yourself against global trends in energy prices by delivering things on your doorstep to give you security. We have an area in South East Leeds which is a major area for industrial development – the vision would be to see if we could actually develop that sustainable energy structure to go into it. Connecting up the waste industry to that vision of the economic development perspective I think is the way to go.  Neil Williams asked whether the real challenge facing councils around waste was the fact that their plans are at the mercy of ever-changing politician factors within central Government. Neil Evans: “Part of the issue is that you have very different patterns in waste collection, and recycling strategies in different parts of the country and also different councils have very different points in terms of dealing with landfill. Controversies are part of the political fight so to actually keep projects on course throughout that is actually pretty difficult and the reality is that it requires brave political leadership to actually see it through. Whilst the majority of the public are absolutely for this, they’re not as vocal as the minority who are against it. That’s the reality.” Lukas Rootman: “You touched on an interesting point in terms of political leadership. A lot of the waste technologies that are out there currently have moved on in leaps and bounds. I think lots of people still talk of waste to energy facilities with a district heating system generating electricity and selling to the grid in terms of how we are going to reduce our waste to landfill. Some people say they don’t want the incinerator but you have to tell them it’s not really an incinerator and what comes out at the top is actually quite clean. ‘Yes but it will be smelly with all the waste and noisy with all the trucks’, they’ll say. So do you [Neil] find that there’s the challenge, that politicians are looking to the next election, as opposed to the political will to say, ‘Yes, I appreciate your views but ultimately this is the right thing to do for the next 50 years and I want to do this because it’s right?” Neil Evans explained a recent case in which telling residents about the environmental as well as economic reasons for a waste plant has helped to get the right people around the table together, pushing to make it a success. Tim Shapcott then moved the conversation onto the issue of whether long-term council contracts – such as Leeds City Council’s 25-year deal with Veolia for its new plant in the city – is the right direction to go given how fast technology is changing. “People I talk to throughout northern Europe generally believe in short-term contracts because they share our view that technology is moving on at pace. Take infrared technology for example. This has improved significantly over the last five years. I remember looking at this kit five years ago and it was all a bit iffy but now it’s so accurate. What’s >> Some people say they don’t want the incinerator but you have to tell them it’s not really an incinerator and what comes out at the top is actually quite clean
  • 13. 2524SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SUMMER 13 DEBATEDEBATE SUMMER 13 happening with resources becoming scarce is that we are seeing more stringent controls on plastics in the Far East for example, so the new tech that we’re taking on board will give us a more detailed sight quality of plastic polymers for example. There are umpteen polymers and in the past it was impossible to separate them. By cleaning the grades up, making precise, clean grades, we’ll be able to use that in the UK where we wouldn’t have done a few years ago. If we want to race innovation and new technology we need access to finance to be able to do that. The reality for the waste management industry is that it relies on short- term contracts traditionally. The public sector is slightly different in that we have some nice interim contracts and some longer term ones and that’s great. But what I can’t fundamentally understand is why the local authority would want to sign off a 25-year contract – the technology is there – so why on earth would you want to do that?” Paul Fowler: “I think historically Veolia was seen as one of the burners in the industry – our solution was energy from waste – but I’d like to think we’ve moved on a little bit since then. The recycling and energy recovery facility in Leeds has got an important front end recycling capability, probably very similar to your facility [Tim], so we’re trying to extract value from that process. And with the residue we’re not sending it abroad or somewhere in the home country, we use it on site to create energy. So in terms of our innovation around that recycling and energy recovery, I think it is embryonic, it’s incremental, I don’t think we move from a waste management sector to more of a product creation and a manufacturing sector but I think it needs a bit of a re-badge. So at the moment we’re looking at trying to increase our innovation around existing, proven technology. We recently invested over £600,000 on an online cleaning system which means we don’t actually have to shut the plant down. We can maximise the electricity generation from that facility and make it more efficient. We’ve also just introduced a system that looks for the most prevalent material and when that changes it flips and selects the next bit of material. More and more we’re seeing our industrial clients wanting to understand our processes so they can better tailor how their waste and recycling streams come to us. I think we will have to as an industry understand how we can deliver better value to them and drive our waste and increase recovery.” Steve Lee: “Customers will get more demanding, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. The industry has got to come to terms with the fact that if it doesn’t add that value added service, somebody else will. As an industry we’ve got to get our heads around how we are going to make an even better profit out of persuading our customers to give us less waste. But we are an industry in transition. If you talk to Ikea about cardboard today, you get a very different response to what you would have got 10 years ago. And an incredibly different response to what you’d get talking to shops just down the road. Ikea love cardboard. They do cardboard so well, they’re trying to persuade their customers to bring in as much cardboard as they possibly can – which interestingly brings Ikea in direct competition, in recycling tonnage terms, with the local authority. I’m trying to persuade DEFRA to go into Europe now and say, ‘let’s stop competing to see who’s the best recycler’. The whole objective should be to manage our eco footprint down and actually to co-operate. I’d like to see Leeds City Council putting whole page adverts in the local press saying take cardboard to Ikea – but at the minute you need as much cardboard as you can get to meet your recycling targets. That’s daft.” Oliver Hoffman turned the focus to the issue of packaging and questioned what’s being done to create less waste in the first place. “What about technology in terms of taking packaging out of the whole system. A number of retailers are focusing more on that and they’re not doing it just on the financial metric of less packaging means less cost – they are doing it to make a virtue out of it to the consumer, because it looks good and they can say they’re doing it. So it’s about making your consumer want to shop there.” Steve Lee: “Certainly the design world is saying interesting things back to our industry, asking us to show them what it’s like when you try to take one of these things apart? So we are helping them design products that are more resource efficient in the first place and so that people like Veolia can get hold of them at the end of life and either re-manufacture them or get the value of materials back out.” Talk then turns to the banking sector’s role in driving change in the industry. Neil Williams: “The waste management market is always going to be in a state of transition. I cant imagine you’ll ever get to a point where you know what next year is going to look like and certainly from a bank’s perspective with whatever we do for you guys – 12 or 18 months’ time someone else will come in with the next bit of technology. So you are continually reinvesting those profits. So from a banking perspective, if customers don’t have long-term contracts or the visibility of the revenue and you’ve got some technology that might be out of date 12 months down the line, it’s about having some faith in the customer. We acknowledge that these markets change but what we’ve found quite difficult is keeping up to date with the industry - how do we find out about this piece of technology? Martin Helstrip: “My question to you would be, in this risk-averse country, if I said to you, would you fund me £100,000 to do a tour of universities to talk to kids about waste reduction? Not a chance. It just wouldn’t happen.” Neil Williams: “At the end of the day, whichever bank you are borrowing from they want to get the security by understanding the customer and the market. If you want to spend £100,000 to educate some people, can you pay us it back?” Martin Helstrip: “Is there a corporate value for banks in promoting environmental awareness and waste reduction?” Neil Williams: “We do a number of things and some of them really do give us value as a company.” William Firth agrees that corporations have an important role to play bringing about new thinking around waste – while also reaping the benefits of doing so. “I’m talking at a supply chain event with people like John Lewis, IBM and Ikea and there’s quite a movement in some of those industries. A lot of them are saying waste reduction is a step on the journey for them. They are saying, ‘we’re an organisation running a business, how do we put something back into society?’ One of the areas they are looking at is resource productivity. I think organisations that continue to miss this as an opportunity and keep enforcing their >> As an industry we’ve got to get our heads around how we are going to make an even better profit out of persuading our customers to give us less waste. We are an industry in transition
  • 14. 2726SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SUMMER 13 DEBATEDEBATE SUMMER 13 products and their ways onto consumers will suffer. “There is a perception that, at what point does a material become a waste? To an organisation is it waste or is it part of their extended supply chain and how do they go about maximising the value for that. So I think there’s a change happening in the industry and people are starting to look at it. Organisations that keep packaging and surplus materials ultimately could be left behind. “M&S is a prime example. It’s spent about £35m to date [on its ‘Plan A’ sustainability push] which will ultimately add around £100m of potential value to the business. So there are movers and shakers. And waste management is just business efficiency. I think the next step is to have conversations further up the supply chain.” Steve Lee: “M&S is only a retailer but boy does it have a good reach into its manufacturers, growers and suppliers. The real way for the waste industry to learn is by going both ways around the resource cycle. We’ve got to talk to the people who refine the materials, who design and manufacture stuff and provide services. Everyone has stopped banging on about planning now and everyone’s banging on about the fact that it really is the availability of capital that’s holding the growth of the sector back.” Tim Shapcott recalled a recent conversation with a Green Investment Bank representative who told him that, despite having vast funds at his disposal to invest in firms, he was finding it extremely difficult to select “sensible” projects to invest in. Steve Lee: “Financing is a problem in the sector at the moment. I’m always looking to other industries going through a similar thing that we can steal best practice from. But I’m really encouraged that there are other industries around that have the same dynamic policy, same development in technology, the IT sector faces the same problems we’ve got. How do you as a bank stay in front of an industry like that? How can we help you understand what’s going on in our sector?” Neil Williams: “Every sector has its challenges. You have to back the people, the idea, do your research in terms of the market opportunity. Every single journey is done on its own merits. The debate then moves on to other challenges, asides financing, stopping waste-related businesses from reaching their potential.” Paul Fowler then brought up the issue of bringing new talent into the sector. “I think education about re-use and prevention is key, but also education and getting across the point that waste management will be an exciting place to be involved in.” John Brooksbank, meanwhile, bemoaned the hindrance of stringent regulation largely through the Environment Agency. “That’s my biggest worry at the moment. I have my own view on the Environment Agency. I think they’re more a prosecution body than an advisory body.” Lukas Rootman: “The challenge that people face in terms of the Environment Agency is that there are circumstances where they don’t understand the technology, where something’s happened in a particular way and they score you as a non-compliance [even though] that is how it is supposed to work. “You tell them it’s not a non-compliance and they ask you to write to them... It can take six months and they still may not have corrected the public record.” He also criticised the Environment Agency’s approach to odour management which can be a drawn-out and burdensome process. “There’s no appreciation sometimes of the commercial realities of certain management provisions that they impose, almost on the back of a fag packet stuff. The guys that seem to be getting it right are the people able to build a relationship to get to a point where the enforcement officer responsible for the site has a decent understanding of what they are regulating. They understand the process, technology, the design parameters. So when something happens, they say, ‘well actually it’s not that bad’ and they do it proportionally.” Martin Helstrip: “I think there’s also the converse side to that where you’re trying to innovate but the time taken for the regulator to understand your innovation and come up with some tangible regulation on it is disproportionate to what you’re trying to do. I often say to one of our Environment Agency officers, ‘take your regulatory head off for a moment and go and hug a tree. Basically, you’re put on this earth to do good things for the environment, so forget what it says in your books for a minute and just think is this good or bad for the environment? Let that guide how you regulate us.’ As an example, we’re trying to recover the plastic resource from the sharps bin that people put needles in. We can recover the whole of that, it’s all one type of plastic, but [the Environment Agency] are so scared of what we do to recover this resource. So that’s a real big barrier to innovation, the regulation side of it.” Lukas Rootman: “It’s a risk averseness. They don’t want to be seen as the person who allowed you to do it. One of the primary focuses of the Environment Agency is sustainable development. Well, they’ve all forgotten about that structure and it’s all about ‘we protect the environment’ and they’ve forgotten about sustainable development.” Caroline Theobald: “What would be your positive message to get to the regulators John?” John Brooksbank: “Come and spend some time in our plant and get some time exposure.” Tim Shapcott: “We would willingly take some people on [from the Environment Agency] for a period of time. We just recently changed some procedures on one of our big sites by re-routing some conveyor belts, so the Environment Agency guy said we would need to update the working plan. So it’s things like that. It’s all about prioritising the risks that we face.” Neil Williams: Do the Germans have all these regulations? William Firth, who admitted to being an ex-Environment Agency man himself, said: “I was in Denmark seven or eight years ago as a regulator and they were laughing in knots about the regulation in the UK, asking why we spend so much time visiting the sites that have permits and pay fees and why the focus was not on sites without permits. The EA has very little resources to deal with non-compliance. The worse the non-compliance case becomes, the more emphasis is put on non-compliance. But I think there is change and your local relationships are key.” Moving back to the original topic of the debate, new opportunities in waste management, Neil Evans said: “Our role in some respects is to try and create a bit of certainty of where we want to go. It is about recycling and creating the next generation of energy and setting out a strategy around energy and how we want to develop and then for the industry to contribute to that. >> Talking at a supply chain event with people like John Lewis, IBM and Ikea and there’s quite a movement in some of those industries. A lot of them are saying waste reduction is a step on the journey
  • 15. 2928SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT There are other opportunities for people to see that there’s some backing from us.” Steve Crow: “Going back to this issue of compliance and demonstrating where sources of income will come from, we see people starting to develop software solutions to demonstrate traceability of product. So there is an opportunity to regulate that particular sector to a high degree. Someone’s seen that opportunity and they are about to take that solution into the medical waste sector. Wherever you go you can spot examples of companies spotting an opportunity from change and responding through innovation.” Steve Lee argued that the industry really needs to get to grips with classifications that determine whether a waste derived material is a by-product, achieves end of waste criteria or remains a waste, which is currently the focus of the EQual initiative. “Determining where waste has been turned back into a raw material that’s indistinguishable from a raw material is really important.” William Firth: “There have been some centrally funded initiatives but the problem is they are only around certain waste types. If you’re outside them you have to go your own way.” Steve Lee: “The industry is curiously two-faced about this because large parts of the industry get paid for managing waste, so actually they are quite happy for the material they are managing to continue to be wasted because somebody won’t come in and compete with them. It’s quite a vexed question but it really is important.” As the debate drew to a close, David Stuart said: “There’s a clear demonstration that the sector is evolving, growing and innovating perhaps more so than any other sector in the UK and its important from our perspective as lenders that we understand the sector better, understand the risk profile of the sector and therefore help it to grow.” Asked for a positive to end an evening which has raised many of the challenges standing between business and waste and resource- related opportunities, Steve Lee said: “We are a recession-resistant sector doing reasonably well. It is estimated that the global market for waste and recycling is about a trillion dollars. It’ll be two trillion dollars in seven years’ time. We as a sector make the mistake sometimes of thinking all new tech comes from Sweden and Germany but it doesn’t. A lot of the expertise is here and we really ought to be thinking about this as a one-off growth export opportunity. The rest of the world wants to know what the UK is thinking of doing and even more, what it did a few years ago and wishes it hadn’t or wishes it had done slightly differently. Everybody wants to learn and there are huge export opportunities.” n The transition from the concept of waste being something to put in a hole to being recognised as a viable and valuable resource is very apparent. Across the region skill and infrastructure is being developed to enable us to harvest this resource - progress is being made, for instance in 2006 published figures for Leeds highlight a 20% recycling rate, in 2013 this is 37% - but this is still a long way short of where we need to get to. In Yorkshire there are large national players and also regional and local businesses engaged in the sector – using this opportunity to make both a difference (less waste) and a profit. It may come as a surprise to some (as it did me) that we are currently exporting waste to Europe to countries like Sweden where they use it as fuel to heat their homes. It’s therefore evident that we haven’t cracked the particular technological, infrastructure and economic nut to make this work to it’s full extent locally – and that’s where the challenge lies - localism has to be part of a sustainable model. Unilateral activity won’t get the size of the result we need but public and private sector partnership can. From the private sector we need the leading technology, the investment and the entrepreneurial instinct - but before expensive investments in infrastructure are made, businesses need support from the public sector in terms of planning permission and sensible, sustainable contracts that will run in parallel to the investment timeframe. Future policy locally and nationally on how waste is collected, managed, treated and processed will be a guiding factor in what happens next in this fast evolving environment. Energy costs only seem to go in one direction and therefore the question of waste to energy will also be paramount – and being able to make this happen on a local basis will be a marker of success – the proposed Veolia recycling plant on the East Leeds Link Road should produce enough electricity to power 20,000 homes. Investments and long term thinking come naturally to Santander. We deliver added value through close partnerships with our customers, and understanding the challenges and opportunities in the waste management sector through our developed industry knowledge and contacts. We are actively up-skilling our relationship teams so that we add value to this important agenda. Neil Williams, Regional Director, Santander Corporate & Commercial, Yorkshire & Humberside Making waste work DEBATE SUMMER 13 We are a recession-resistant sector doing reasonably well. It is estimated that the global market for waste and recycling is about a trillion dollars. It will be two trillion dollars in seven years’ time SUMMER 13 CASE STUDY GW Butler is part of the European Union (EU) funded Waste2Go project, whose main objective is the transformation of the biogenic fraction of municipal solid waste into chemicals with a monetary value greater than what could be achieved if it was used as an energy source. The research and technological development (RTD) project is made up of eight partners from five European countries and will be implemented over three years. “It really is cutting edge,” said managing director of GW Butler, Martin Helstrip. “It’s very much in the R&D stage and we’re about nine months into a three-year project. “Using innovative approaches the outputs will be optimised for market value as chemical feedstocks. “The waste industry has always been about segregating smaller parts of waste. “What waste providers have done over the last 10 years is start to deliver to different consumers so you can separate waste at source into materials that can have a value – something that can be done with it, other than go into landfill.” GW Butler was established in 1933, specialising in the collection and recycling of scrap metal. Over the past 70 years, four generations of the Butler family have steered the company through various developments culminating in the specialist waste treatment at Bow Beck in Bradford. In the early 90s, the company installed an incinerator for disposal of wood waste and this evolved into a clinical waste disposal facility at a time when the NHS was losing its Crown immunity. GW Butler continued to strive for best available technology and towards the end of the 90s an alternative technology plant was bought to replace the clinical waste incinerator. “Health care waste had always been a no-go area for recycling,” said Helstrip. “These devices are safe, but it’s a public relations challenge. Some people don’t like the idea that they’re being treated with equipment that has been used before. “One of the innovations we brought in was the recycling of single-use medical equipment and it’s been very well received by health care providers. “No one really thinks of good hospitals as massive waste producers, but they are. There are many things hospitals can do to decrease waste and save money that they are not currently doing.” “Selecting good devices for re-sterilisation and retesting could decrease the amount of needless waste from hospitals.” Although there is a clear value in recycling waste from health care providers, GW Butler has an ethical duty to ensure hospitals are striving to reduce the amount of waste they produce, through training. Helstrip said: “We encourage our NHS trusts through training and information provision to produce less waste, because that’s the correct thing to do. “Our goal is to reduce the amount of waste produced by a hospital because that’s the moral obligation we have to the planet. “There are a lot of wasted resources in this country and I think we can get ourselves out of the economic mire that we’re in by being more waste conscious than we are.” The company has grown exponentially in the past four years, acquiring a company called Medical Waste Solutions in Nottingham and a further plant in East London in 2010. GW Butler’s turnover currently stands at £5m and it employs 42 staff across all of its sites. It has ambitions to grow that turnover to nearer £7m in the next financial year as it begins to capitalise on its acquisitions and investments. “We’re bringing the technology that we’ve developed in Yorkshire to a wider market place,” said Helstrip. “We’re looking to add another two facilities to our portfolio in the UK over the next five years.” n GOOD CHEMISTRY A Bradford-based healthcare waste management company is leading the UK march on innovation as it seeks to transform solid waste into chemicals. Ruth Lognonne reports
  • 16. 30SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT INSIGHT SUMMER 13 WHERE LESS IS MORE A perfect storm of conditions is pushing owner-managed firms and SMEs into being more innovative, efficient and less wasteful with their resources. And increasingly they are discovering that less waste really can mean more profit. Andrew Mernin talks to Yorkshire consultancy CO2 Sense about the battle to drive waste out of small businesses 31 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT Marks & Spencer announced in June that it had beaten its goal for 25% of its M&S Food range to be produced in factories sending zero waste to landfill. By the end of 2012, the group reported, 84 suppliers accounting for 32% of M&S Food turnover had sent no waste to landfill. The retailer also said its UK and Republic of Ireland stores, offices and warehouses sent no waste to landfill in 2013. While pandering to a market in which sustainability is growing in importance on the customer’s wish-list, such waste reduction efforts are also driving real change among SMEs. “If you’re a business sitting in the middle of a supply chain of a much bigger customer-facing company, then often their requirements will be pushed down onto you,” says Stephen Brown, executive director of Leeds-based environmental consultancy CO2 Sense, >> Companies like Tesco, Asda and M&S have specific requests for their suppliers in terms of how they manage products and waste so that drives innovation
  • 17. 32SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT which works closely with businesses to help improve their waste management strategy. “Companies like Tesco, Asda and M&S have really specific requests for their suppliers in terms of how they manage products and waste so that gets pushed on and drives innovation in that sector.” Money, of course, is perhaps the key motivating factor behind any change of direction within a small business. And while it may not have been the case in the past, the results of recycling and cutting waste are being clearly evidenced on balance sheets across the spectrum of sectors. “One of the biggest challenges is to make waste management cost-effective for these businesses. If it’s going to cost them twice as much money, with the best will in the world, they are probably not going to do it. It’s about understanding how to manage that in a way that is cost-effective. “But if there’s a clear financial case and the Finance Director understands it, then the FD will make sure it happens. Simple as that,” says Stephen. His colleague Briony Pete, a consultant at CO2 Sense, agrees that the bottom line is what really drives new thinking around waste within SMEs. And it’s becoming increasingly clear why. “Even recycling is becoming less expensive than the landfill option so even if you have only got a small amount of waste material, if you can take that out of the expensive bin there’s obviously a cost saving in itself,” she says. “Landfill tax increases by £8 a year so that’s a driver to get people to stop. It’s £72 per tonne currently and that’s going to keep increasing. So at the moment we’re at the tipping point with landfill getting more expensive than recycling and that is going to continue to change in the next two or three years.” Recycling small amounts of material to save money is one thing, but driving profits by keeping resources in the business’s processes and manufacturing cycles can be an entirely more lucrative game. And sometimes necessity for materials that are becoming scarce and therefore more expensive also plays its part – particularly among manufacturers. Stephen says: “Look at what’s happened in the metals market in the last couple of years. Metals are getting more expensive and scarce and so how you manage that resource better is a real challenge if you are in the manufacturing industry. “There are also several issues about how you run manufacturing and some of the precepts around product design allowing you to design waste out of the system. “The idea is that a product has multiple lives, not just one, and it’s designed to be remanufactured so at the end of its life a product can be turned into a higher value product again. You do that by designing the waste out of the product.” Stephen cites the example of Xerox, the photocopier giant, as an example for businesses to aspire to. “Almost every thing in their machines is almost certain to have been in another machine previously so they design them with that in mind.” As well as cost, client pressure and necessity, technology is also driving improvement in small business waste management strategy. Stephen says: “There has been a limit in the past on the number of materials we recycle but now there are more and more options and I think there is a lot of availability in the Yorkshire region. “Some of the technology that’s being deployed now isn’t so new, like anaerobic digestion which has been around for a couple of decades and being used in other Northern European countries. “What’s driving it here is the feed-in tariff for renewable power generation so you can now get a higher value for the process than you could before.” CO2 Sense works extensively with businesses, as well as public sector organisations, to help them improve the way they handle their waste – or rather, resources. One of the trends they are seeing currently within the small business community is businesses where many of them have reached a stage where they’ve already carried out the quick fixes to cut their waste and are struggling to make more impactful changes. Briony says: “A lot of businesses have reached the stage now where they have made the ‘low hanging fruit’ changes and are now wondering what’s next. It may be that they’ve made sure they’ve got plenty of recycling bins. So we try to give them the knowledge and guidance to help them make that next step themselves.” Such advice might include a suggestion to assess whether the arrangement with their waste contractor is actually suited to the type and volume of waste they are putting out. Perhaps an off-the-shelf solution does not cater for their unique needs and something bespoke is more suited. Briony advises businesses to measure and monitor what they are producing and >> 33 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT A lot of businesses have reached the stage where they have made the ‘low hanging fruit’ changes and are now wondering what’s next. So we try to give them guidance INSIGHT SUMMER 13
  • 18. 3534SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT CO2 Sense, based in the Marshall’s Mill business hub in Leeds, was formed in 2005 as a wholly owned company of Yorkshire Forward, seven years before the regional development agency was officially abolished. Its survival as a self-sufficient entity since then is an achievement in itself, given the catalogue of bodies that have fallen by the wayside across the UK since their European-funded RDA backing ceased. The group has managed to fashion a commercial niche and it is reportedly now on an upward trajectory. Stephen Brown says: “We retained our core skills such as energy and recycling, waste management and investment and now we offer advice to business, help to manage public funding programmes, and we also invest capital in low-carbon energy projects.” The not-for-profit consultancy has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in renewable energy projects and in companies which make low-carbon goods and services. The CO2 Sense story how often they produce it. It’s also crucial, she says, for businesses to consider the true cost of waste leaving the business, factoring in upfront costs that are tied up in that material. Generating staff interest and engagement in resources management is also key. “Staff engagement is really important. You could have the best policy in the world but if your staff aren’t on board then they’re not going to do it and will keep throwing things in the wrong bin or not worry about actually how much that off-cut is worth because it’s not important to them. “So getting everybody at every level of every business is really crucial in achieving long- lasting change. Getting staff to come up with some of the ideas is a really good way of doing this. It’s critical to get them to understand the why and not the what.” Finally, Briony warns against resource and waste management improvement being considered as a “bolt-on”. “That’s when it loses momentum,” she says. “It really is about ingraining change in the business and that comes right from the top of a company.” n INSIGHT SUMMER 13 SUMMER 13 CASE STUDY BOOST YOUR ENERGY If the UK is to meet its renewable energy targets by the end of the decade, more support is needed at a policy level to develop new technologies, says Chartered Institution of Waste Management (CIWM) president, John Skidmore With exhaustible fossil fuels in decline, the hunt is now on for efficient and consistent energy streams which can fill the gap. The Government has an ambitious renewable energy target to meet, with 15% of all energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 and emissions to be cut by 34% from 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80% by 2050. There is a growing awareness of innovative conversion waste-to-energy technologies which can generate an efficient, consistent energy source whilst also contributing to the UK’s vision for a zero waste economy. The potential for waste to be treated as a resource needs to be realised, especially when the need for sustainable energy solutions has never been greater. John Skidmore is president of CIWM and has become increasingly focussed on how waste can be transformed into a valuable and economically viable resource. He has been involved in the waste industry for more than 30 years and joined the City of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council in 1980 as a technical officer before becoming cleansing services manager in 1991. Skidmore held numerous positions at Wakefield before moving to East Riding of Yorkshire Council in 2007 as head of street scene services. “There is a plethora of energy-to-waste facilities across Europe,” he said. “We need to apply the same sort of confidence to these advanced conversion projects in the UK. “But the UK Government has a fragmented approach and they’re delaying over any long- term strategic investments. “There is an innovative energy-from-waste plant under construction at Ferryhill, but the Government has withdrawn funding for two projects of a similar nature in Yorkshire and North Yorkshire. “The Government doesn’t feel it needs to provide any further public funding for these sorts of projects, as it’s already well on the way to meeting its European energy targets for 2020. But it’s failing to take a long-term strategic look at the role waste can play as part of the energy mixture. “The funding regime is different across Europe. Local authorities on the continent take more of a risk than in the UK, where a lack of commitment to funding is affecting companies’ investment in new technologies. Skidmore says that new and emerging waste to energy technologies could mean a significant increase in generating energy in the UK and help drive down bills for everyone through increased competition. He praised Air Products, who announced back in April that they were to build a 350,000 tonne per year waste-to-energy plasma gasification facility on Teesside. He said: “If the UK is to meet its targets and source 15% of its energy from renewable sources by the end of the decade, it cannot be done without appropriate levels of support at a policy level to enable the development and commercialisation of renewable energy technologies. “The best technologies are typically those at an earlier stage of development and adoption and as such generally require the greatest support. But our government is not prepared to take the risk and fund these new technologies. Banks won’t fund them and nor will major waste management companies. “In Wales and Scotland, they’ve been really clear about their strategy and targeting investment in these projects. What we’ve got in England focuses on meeting the minimum requirement on European directive targets and no more. “It’s my job to look at the long-term plan in the next 50 to 100 years’ time. It’s about maximising our products both in the household and industrial sector. We can’t carry on living beyond our means in terms of the products we consume.” Opportunities to divert waste from landfill are increasing as more anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities spring up across Yorkshire. This is one area, explains Skidmore, which has earned key Government backing. “Government is trying to grow AD capacity across the country,” he said. “A number have cropped up on farms across East Riding and I would say there are as many as 30 plants across Yorkshire as a whole. “It not only helps Government reach their renewable target but from a commercial point of view, it provides a more cost-effective and environmentally alternative to landfill.” n John Skidmore, president of the Chartered Institution of Waste Management (CIWM), says more support is needed at a policy level to develop much-needed waste-to- energy technologies.
  • 19. 37SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT levels through kerbside recycling.” Straight plc started out as a distributor, then as a manufacturer “for other people’s products” before developing its own products in-house, taking in a number of acquisitions along the way. Today, Jonathan says the business has two types of product: “There are products where we’ve seen things happening and jumped in and done it better than anybody else was doing it. And as a consequence became the leader in the market. “Then there are those areas where we’ve innovated based on customer need to create something completely new.” Although he says times in the last two years have been tough – impacting on the level of investment available for new product development and innovation – the general trajectory of the firm since inception has been steadily upwards.   Contract wins this year include a £1.07m deal with Dumfries and Galloway Council to supply the products to support the council’s maiden kerbside recycling initiative. In May it announced it had secured a position on a four- year framework agreement with public sector buying agency YPO to supply a range of plastic wheeled bins from 140 to 1100-litre capacity. It is estimated that this could be worth between £30m and £60m across a total of six suppliers on the framework. The company was founded in 1993 and grew to £30m-a-year turnover by 2010. The following year revenue dipped by a couple of million as it reported a pre-tax loss of £800,000. But by 2012 was back on track for a return to profit, having reduced its manufacturing costs and moved certain processes in-house. To an outsider, the market in which Straight operates may seem to be based around fairly basic products in terms of design. However, in what is a hugely competitive global industry, products thrive or die on the back of the usability, practicality and functions designed into them at the research and development phase. In terms of anticipating changes in market demand, Jonathan’s strategy is straightforward. “You need to stay close to customers and to what they are saying. Read the trade press and keep a lot of notes. I keep cuttings and I make lists of ideas and collate information over a very broad range of subjects of interest. Periodically I will then go and review things to see where we are with them.” The creative talent within the organisation is also clearly important, and the company has what Jonathan calls a ‘bank of concepts’ from which to extrapolate eventual new products. “We have a pipeline of concepts which we are working on all the time, which will start with a sketch and a rough idea and if somebody bites or likes the look of something and we get a customer interested, then the next stage is to do a formal CAD, then a prototype and then tooling. “My involvement with the business is the creative buzz and creative force behind it, while I’m also involved with the sales activity and I have a very detailed knowledge of working in public procurement. “I’m not an engineer, a designer or a particularly technical person but I know inherently what looks nice, what doesn’t, what will work and what won’t.” The risks are high when bringing a new product into the waste market and Jonathan admits that the company chooses its partners very carefully. “There are occasions where we’ve been offered a product by a third party and we sign up to an expensive licensing agreement usually with a minimum royalty payment and it doesn’t take off. “So now we’re very wary of people who knock on the door and offer minimum guaranteed royalties or payments.” Globally, Straight has established a number of overseas sales channels for its products, some of which are manufactured locally to their markets in North America and in Australia. In its core British market, meanwhile, the plc has taken advantage of the quirks of the territory which differentiate it from the rest of the world. Jonathan says: “What is interesting about the British market for recycling containers is the lack of consistency and the lack of one way of doing things. So, for example if we look at the Australian market, everybody has three wheelie bins and that’s how it works, end of story. Here every council does something different. There is a fundamental disagreement as to whether recyclables should be mixed together in a wheelie bin or sorted into parts on the kerbside using the box. “Beyond that there are some councils collecting food waste separately from other forms of waste and some mix it in with green waste, which makes it more expensive and a bit of a missed opportunity. You may have a couple of bins as a council customer or you may have seven, eight or nine. For us the fragmented nature of the market is probably a benefit. It allows creativity and allows us to try things that are different.” Much of Straight’s success can be attributed to its ability to navigate the inner workings of the council procurement process. So are public sector authorities becoming more progressive in their attitudes towards waste collection products? “As a consequence of being more financially constrained, they are looking very closely at what they are doing so for once things are being looked at in terms of ‘is this adding value’. “There seems to be a climate where councils are not just buying the cheapest. In half the tenders we do now there’s a quality evaluation in there.” n 36 SUMMER 13 CASE STUDYCASE STUDY SUMMER 13 The battle that rages between the world’s tech giants and is metered out on Wall Street may seem a galaxy away from the business of making plastic bins. But for Jonathan Straight of waste and recycling products outfit, Straight plc, it’s a world from which he takes inspiration in his continual strive to change and dominate the market through innovation. The Yorkshire business he formed 20 years ago and has since grown into a £30m-plus turnover operation makes waste and recycling containers and lists councils, support services groups and utilities giants from across the UK among its clients. “It might sound a bit of a pompous analogy, but look at the iPad,” he says. “Apple didn’t invent the tablet, absolutely not. I was using an HP tablet 10 years ago. “They didn’t invent it, but they presented it better than anybody previously. So it’s become the category leader, the known face of that product in the market.” And this attitude underpins his approach to innovation and new product development. “If you take a product like the 3BoxStack [a multi-box recycling container that assembles neatly into one manoeuvrable unit], which we’ve just launched, that’s genuinely new. “Yes, there may have been ways to stack a few kerbside boxes on a trolley or products that would hold more than one kerbside box, but the idea of a wholly new integrated system with a trolley and box that is designed to fit together, with apertures at the front to be used while they’re on the trolley...That’s a completely new direction and is something we designed over a number of years in consultation with the key movers and shakers that would buy that container. “What we now find is that someone else has designed a vehicle specifically for use with that system and so it forms part of a movement towards much higher recyclable Refuse bins and boxes may not be as sexy a product line as flashy Californian-born gadgets, but the focus on innovation that goes into them is just as measured and strong. So says Jonathan Straight, whose Yorkshire- based plc continues to dominate the hugely competitive waste and environmental containers market I’m not an engineer, a designer or a particularly technical person but I know inherently what looks nice, what doesn’t, what will work and what won’t PLASTIC FANTASTIC
  • 21. 4140 SUMMER 13 XXXXXXX SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SUMMER 13 INTERVIEW Cyprus, that bailed out land with an ailing economy, may not exactly seem like the place to find game-changing technology capable of shaking up an industry. But that’s exactly where Tim Shapcott and his team believes he may have found the new technology that will shape the future of the business he heads up with John Brooksbank, Associated Waste Management (AWM). The firm, which has its HQ in Leeds and is largely focused on commercial industrial waste management, is plotting a major expansion on the back of what it believes is the next generation of waste separation technology. Last year’s turnover of £32m is expected to rise to £36m this year as the company enjoys a steady stream of contract wins. But bigger growth plans are afoot. The company is currently on the hunt for a new site in Yorkshire on which to build a multimillion-pound plant that will house new technology the company is currently looking into, that was designed by Germans and is in operation in Cyprus. Fuelled by surging demand in its European export markets, the company wants to embrace this new technology to increase the amount of potentially useful material it is able to extract before it exports refuse derived fuel (RDF) to the Continent. Shapcott says: “As a company we are now exporting a run rate of about 150,000 tonnes of fuel grade RDF. It is used for district heating plans which are creating steam and hot water that are supplied to the local towns and villages across Europe. “Every day we have six trucks leaving for Rotterdam, for example, and that plant we supply to is powering 200,000 homes. In Denmark we are supplying to Dong Energy [the Danish government-backed power giant]. “What I have determined is that in the market in northern Europe there remains huge demand. If you go back four or five years there was a black hole of about six million tonnes of fuel requirement there. The UK has moved to fill some of that hole but I still believe there is a hole for about four million tonnes of fuel bails in northern Europe currently. “Then, if you look at the market in Sweden they are building more district heating and newer plants and the capacity for fuel in Scandinavia is set to double in the next two years. So it’s a very strong market which I don’t see diminishing anytime soon.” In basic terms, Shapcott and his team have come to realise that new technology being used on the Continent would enable more value to be extracted from the waste it processes – which would in turn reduce thermal disposal and shipment costs – before its fuel bales are shipped out. Shapcott says: “What we want to do is find some technology that can actually separate different polymer grades of plastic and carbon from paper and the only way we’ll do that is using near-infrared systems or gamma ray radiation. “There are technologies available now that have been developed in Germany which are working very well in a number of plants. But the best one I’ve seen is in Cyprus where they’ve got a collection of this kit all working in harmony and working particularly efficiently. We would like to use that technology and copy that plant and bring it back to the UK. “When we looked at near-infrared technology five years ago it was a little bit hit and miss and the plants were fairly small. But >> There are technologies that have been developed in Germany which are working very well in plants. But the best one I’ve seen is in Cyprus where they’ve got a collection of this kit all working in harmony and working efficiently 41 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT INTERVIEW SUMMER 13
  • 22. 4342 XXXXXXX SUMMER 13 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT XXXXXXX SUMMER 13 the principal was there. We knew it worked but it required a lot of tweaking and set-up time and adjustment, but that seems to have stabilised and the overall performance of the kit seems to have improved dramatically. “We’ve seen the added value within these residues by bringing this new technology back to the UK to separate out the paper and the plastics in the main as recyclable commodities. We can then sell those commodities. So instead of paying for the disposal of the thermal fuel bale, we can sell the papers and the plastics for £60 a tonne. So this is a huge no brainer for us.” But like most expansion plans, access to capital is an issue. “This new plant we are looking to build would have two lines and would probably be another £10m investment on top of the other big investments we’ve made recently – such as the £12.5m Gelderd Road plant in Leeds. “So with the current degree of lending tightness with the banks, we have to choose our partners carefully. But there is an appetite to do that and our bankers at the moment are giving us the green signals to put the proposal together. “We’re looking for a building that’s about 100,000 sq ft and I’m waiting on a decision at the moment on some land [somewhere in Yorkshire] and if we are able to do that, I would like to think within 12 months from today, we would be operational with the technology.” Should AWM achieve its aim with the new plant, it would, according to Shapcott, be truly pioneering change in the waste management sector. “There are people in the UK using near- infrared technology on clean recyclables. So for companies who’ve collected, say, paper and tin cans from houses, it’s already segregated material that the technology is being used to separate in a modest form. “So because we’ve got this mixed bag of materials, we have to separate them out into initially 2D and 3D fraction sizes, we have to get rid of the wastage and any contamination. At the same time, the cameras within the system need to be able to recognise all the different polymers. So there are various stepping stones to get to that degree of transparency of materials. “No one is using this technology on the scale that we intend to, though, and we believe if we can build this kit, this will be leading-edge technology in the UK.” Elsewhere, across five materials recovery facilities (MRFs) AWM employs 225 people and provides waste collection, treatment and recycling, and disposal services to around 2,000 local and national customers in the industrial, commercial and municipal sectors. The company was formed in 2000 by John Brooksbank and has more than trebled in size in recent years during which it has bought Just Recycling Group, Aero Waste Disposal and Leeds Environmental Organisation. In November 2011 it opened a £12.5m waste recycling plant at Gelderd Road in Morley which, at full capacity, is able to process over 200,000 tonnes of waste and followed contract wins with Calderdale, Bradford and Leeds councils. Other recent successes include a deal with Barnsley Metropolitan District Council for the diversion of landfill and the £2.5m redevelopment of a new ‘super’ MRF plan in Bradford at the start of the year. But the company has ambitious plans for further growth. n 42SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT No one is using this technology on the scale that we intend to, though, and we believe if we can build this kit, this will be leading-edge technology in the UK SUMMER 13 INTERVIEW
  • 23. SUMMER 13 INSIGHT 45 SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT44SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT INSIGHT SUMMER 13 BUILDING FOR THE FUTUREAs developers continue to look for new ways to drive carbon out of their practices, they are increasingly turning to products made from unwanted industrial by-products and waste. Andrew Mernin profiles some of the organisations in Yorkshire tapping into this growing waste-derived market Firm foundations A chance discovery by one of the founding scientists behind University of Leeds’ spinout Encos, while at home in his kitchen, led to a crucial tweak to the company’s strategy. Until that point the R&D-stage firm had built its foundations on its flagship ‘Bitublock’ product. The bricks were made by mixing unwanted bottom ash from power stations with bitumen and the result was a partly sustainable product for use in construction. However, although proven to be strong and able to withstand the elements and the test of time, it had two fatal flaws. Firstly, it was a black brick which, aesthetically, struggled to compete with what was already on the market. Also, the presence of bitumen, which is derived from crude oil, meant the product was not totally sustainable – at the end of the brick’s useful lifespan, little could be done to extract further use out of its chemical components. Then came Dr Salah Zoorob’s vital discovery. On a baking tray at home he noticed a hard material. A little detective work revealed its source to be vegetable oil which had polymerised during cooking. Next he mixed some aggregate with vegetable oil in a mould and cured it in the oven at the same temperature you would cook a meal. The result was a material strong enough to be used as brick and a product that has been the turning point for the business. >>
  • 24. 47INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT46SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 SUMMER 13 INSIGHT Encos products are manufactured using a patented method which is based on research originally carried out at the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds into the use of alternative binders in construction materials. The process consumes no water and produces no waste. Since Dr Zoorob’s breakthrough in 2007, the company has attained the backing of investors from FTSE-250 player IP Group plc amongst others, and it is nearing an assault on the housebuilding and commercial property development market. The aggregate it uses comes from limestone quarries. It is the material that is too fine for commercial use and otherwise goes to waste – usually after being thrown back into the quarry. The vegetable oil from Dr Zoorob’s home experiment has been replaced by a rapeseed oil-based waste product that comes out of chemical firm Croda Europe’s facilities in Hull, UK and Gouda, The Netherlands. Stuart Shaw, research and development manager at Encos, says: “Croda had a vegetable oil residue that was basically being sent off to be burnt for fuel and they offered it to us as a way of binding our aggregate together. “We are locking the CO2 in that product and that’s going to be like that for 60 to 100 years whereas if it’s burned it goes straight back into the atmosphere and consumes oxygen in the combustion process. “Because the product can be recycled you can grind it down and reuse it as another aggregate source. “Also, the aggregate we get is the fine material that comes from the crushing of rocks, the majority of which goes back into the quarry, so there’s a lot of energy tied up in creating that. We are diverting it to make bricks and brick slips out of it.” An added incentive for developers looking for carbon negative or neutral materials comes in the manufacturing process. “To make a clay brick you have to fire it over 1000 degrees for 48 hours but we can produce something at 170 degrees for 24 hours. So the energy savings are immense compared to clay bricks and their performance is the same.” Having undergone rigorous tests over several years to prove the bricks and brick slips it makes have the strength and longevity of their less environmentally-friendly counterparts, the company has now reached a crossroads and is actively on the hunt for new investment. To date it has seen investment from the IP Group and Renewables investors that has propelled it through the various hoops between it and entry into the mass construction market. Financial backing has also helped to secure comprehensive IP protection. “We’ve done all the tests that are needed to enable us to mass produce it. The next step for us is to produce sufficient volumes for people to see it and use it at scale,” says Shaw. “We’ve got two options – build our own factory completely new, which will cost about £10m, or more sensibly convert existing facilities for about £1.5m something we are working on. It is to be remembered that one plant can make all forms of masonry including brick, tiles and blocks.” Green edge While built environment products that alleviate another industry’s waste management problems are attractive to developers, in the past they have often been hindered by their price point. Sustainable alternatives to materials that have been used by builders for hundreds of years can be a tough sell – no matter how stringent green targets are today. For Carlton Manufacturing, then, its ability to offer that green edge over existing products cost-effectively has been central in its success. The company, which has a manufacturing plant in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire, utilises waste streams from a wide range of industries to make cements and concretes. As the story goes, it was founded in 2011 after experienced helicopter pilot, Max Smith, spotted a business opportunity as he was flying over East Yorkshire. At 3,000ft above ground, he noticed the sheer amount of potentially useful waste material stockpiled in the region. He also recognised this could provide a steady supply of raw material for building products. Finance director Chris Blaxall, who co-founded the business with Smith and the entrepreneur’s brother Guy, says: “We’re using materials out of other manufacturing processes where the raw material is something that would otherwise go to landfill at the moment or is sitting in heaps, for instance at power stations. “The product itself works as well as anything else in the market place and we’re getting positive feedback from customers, large and small, which shows there’s no loss of functionality in it.” The sources of materials that go into Carlton’s products are wide ranging – covering several industries including power and wellbeing. For instance, Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA), a by-product of the coal burned in generating electricity from the coal-fired power industry is utilised, as are certain by-products from the pharmaceutical industry. Essentially, it has swapped quarried raw materials with recycled waste materials. Particularly successful for the firm is its range of quick setting fence post cement. “At the moment we’re growing 30% a month and we’re currently running at around £2.5m-a- year turnover mark, but I would expect to be up to £10m within the next couple of years,” Blaxall says. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest these grand plans are well within reach for the firm, which currently has a team of 22. Earlier this year the company moved from a 17,000sq ft facility in Wakefield >> We’re using materials out of other manufacturing processes where the raw material is something that would otherwise go to landfill or is sitting in heaps, for instance, at power stations INSIGHT SUMMER 13
  • 25. 48SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT into a 43,000sq ft site at Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire. Its fence post products are now being sold by the UK’s largest independent builders merchant, MKM, and are even being used in the upkeep of Network Rail’s vast infrastructure, through supply chain contractors. In sourcing recycled waste products, there have been challenges along the way, as Blaxall explains: “When you’ve got a product that you’re looking to set quickly, sometimes the stuff you’re putting in is actually trying to do the reverse so it’s a matter of getting that balance right and then being a little bit inventive.” Finding the right technology to fill its bags also proved surprisingly tricky, although it recently solved this problem with significant investment in a state-of-the-art system from Belgium. Throughout Carlton’s emergence into a commercially successful firm, it has been backed by Finance Yorkshire, which offers ‘seedcorn’ finance, business loans and equity- linked finance. A £400,000 round of investment in July 2012 was followed up by an £800,000 package last December – both of which have helped the company on its path to growing a national presence. Heather Roxborough, investment manager at Finance Yorkshire, says Carlton’s tackling of the barriers that have stopped other sustainable products in their tracks previously has been instrumental in its success. “Lots of people are selling environmental products that actually have an inferior performance or are more costly but Carlton has great performance which is just as good, if not better, than the industry leaders and has actually done it at the same price. “It’s very hard to compete in a sector like that with a sustainable message if you are more expensive. And that’s part of Carlton’s knowhow. Normally the cost of manufacture has been such that it’s been non-competitive.” And for those aiming to emulate Carlton with their own idea to find business success out of industrial waste, Finance Yorkshire is open to suggestions. “You can see [in our work with Carlton] that we think the sustainable waste management sector is interesting. We are looking for opportunities in that sector and I think the key thing for us is that the companies have a product that can compete with – or better – the industry standard on performance and price.” Kerb innovation on road to success According to construction sector research, over 70% of all concrete kerbs delivered to building sites are broken prior to the adoption of the road: a mildly surprising statistic perhaps, for those of us not in the high-visibility, clad-built- environment club. But for one Yorkshire business it’s indicative of a huge opportunity for a product made entirely from waste material. Sheffield’s R3 Products makes a range of items for use in several markets which have one thing in common – they are made from 100% recycled UK mixed waste plastic. Its innovative take on the humble kerb, Ezikerb, has turned heads across the UK and, at the time of writing, is on the shortlist for the Best Recycled Product Award at the National Recycled Products Award for 2013. Should it win the title, it will be a feather in the cap for a potentially game-changing built environment component. But awards don’t guarantee market acceptance for sustainable products made from waste materials and the ability to show proven performance in the real world is essential. “When you’ve got innovations coming into an industry, the tests that have gone before have been designed to test things already on the market,” says Chris Gorse, director of Leeds Sustainability Institute, part of Leeds Metropolitan University. His organisation has worked closely with R3 in testing the concept of the Ezikerb and continues to work with a number of similarly forward-focused businesses who’ve found a use for other people’s waste. “One of the first things we did was look at what tests we could do, whether they were load-bearing tests or strength tests. We also looked at slip-resistant tests - if a car came into contact with a kerb you need to be able to show that the car won’t excessively skid on the surface. “Some of the tests that you do on concrete kerbs couldn’t be done – so it’s about trying to convince an industry initially that the products being produced are fit for purpose even if some tests can’t be undertaken and looking at ways of justifying that the materials will still perform.” The institute headed up by Gorse opened last year with a remit of promoting environmental improvements and undertaking research into reducing the impact of the built environment. It is working with other waste innovators too, like a company pioneering manhole covers made from recycled glass, by providing world class testing facilities and expertise. And Gorse believes such firms will grow in number in the coming years. “In the future I think there are going to be far more products made from recycled materials. “In the construction industry, any building you want to be classed as excellent for its green credentials has to be made of a reasonable percentage of recycled components so in virtually every aspect of construction you will see recycled materials being used on buildings and that is going to be something that’s replicated in all other manufacturing processes.” n INSIGHT SUMMER 13 I think the key thing for us is that the companies have a product that can compete with - or better - the industry standard on performance and price Business interests across Yorkshire, the West Midlands, the North East, and Scotland? 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  • 26. SPECIAL REPORT | SUMMER 13 INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY IN WASTE MANAGEMENT50 CASE STUDY SUMMER 13 GOOD DIGESTION ReFood UK’s anaerobic digestion (AD) plant is in growing demand by Yorkshire businesses as they seek to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill. Ruth Lognonne reports ReFood UK, part of the PDM Group, opened its state-of-the-art AD facility in Doncaster in 2011. It collects and recycles 45,000 tonnes of food from businesses across the Yorkshire region, converting it into 2.8MWs of electricity - enough to power 5,000 homes, as well as heat for local businesses and organic fertiliser, DynAgro. AD is a natural process in which micro- organisms break down organic matter, such as food waste, slurry and crop residues, into biogas and fertiliser. The process avoids food and agricultural waste going to landfill in addition to being a renewable source of energy and fertiliser for farmers. Allowing food waste to rot in landfill is not only a waste but a significant carbon impact, according to ReFood UK’s commercial director, Philip Simpson. He said: “By recycling via anaerobic digestion this carbon impact is eliminated as all gas given off during the process is captured and used to generate energy. “ReFood is a service that is in high demand by local businesses as they seek to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill. “In addition to providing an environmental service, the construction of the £12m plant has been designed to be highly sustainable. Indeed, it has won an industry award for its construction.” ReFood UK’s plant enables the company to take and process all types of food waste, including packaged foods. It uses the most efficient technology available to enable the conversion of biogas to energy. The plant also enables greater levels of heat recovery to be achieved as steam and hot water generated is used by another PDM business, Nortech, reducing demand for steam produced by a fossil fuelled boiler. Simpson added: “ReFood UK offers one of the most effective food waste recycling services in the UK design to operate sustainably at every stage of its operation.  “Yorkshire businesses are able to use its simple service and see food waste put to much more sustainable use than landfill.” The company recently achieved Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 110 certification for producing fertiliser from AD, making its Doncaster facility one of very few in the UK to be awarded the accreditation.  For ReFood, the certification ensures that DynAgro fertiliser produced by its plant is made using suitable materials and processed by AD to deliver a product that meets market needs and protects the environment. The Doncaster plant has undergone a year- long validation programme to demonstrate compliance with the standard. Feedback from local farmers using the fertiliser has been largely positive - not only are the treated crops greener and healthier, but the farmers have also achieved cost savings by reducing the use of inorganic fertilisers. Simpson said: “As a business that strives to achieve best practice in food waste recycling, we have always been a supporter of PAS110. “We work closely with our raw material suppliers and customers in the farming community, who also see a great value to PAS accreditation. “We have worked hard to attain PAS110, so that our customers can have complete confidence in the safety and quality of our processes.” AD is currently at the heart of the Government’s waste policies. The Government-spawned Green Investment Bank says it is looking to provide up to £50m of debt financing for anaerobic digestion projects. In its first market report since launching last November, the bank says capital investment of £650m will be required to produce the amount of electricity which a Government report has suggested should be generated from AD by 2020. Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband said: “The ReFood plant demonstrates the potential that exists for the renewable energy industry, and the role it plays in creating jobs and delivering energy savings for homes and businesses.” n T: 08454 603603 F: 01274 722829 E: info@gwbutler.co.uk www.gwbutler.co.uk SENSIBLE WASTE SOLUTIONS FROM GWB HEALTHCARE WASTE MANAGEMENT SPECIALISTS A: Unit 2 Bow Beck, Bowling Back Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD4 8SL A: Crossgate Drive, Queens Drive Industrial Estate, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire NG2 1LW A: Unit 21, Barlow Way, Fairview Industrial Estate, Rainham, Essex RM13 8BT • Total Waste Management for the NHS and Private Healthcare Providers • Healthcare waste training and advice • Waste recycling and resource recovery • Confidential waste disposal • Professional and customer focused service GW Butler is a proud partner in: Waste2Go is a research and technological development project that develops technologies to locally improve waste management and increase value (social, economic and environmental). Its main objective is the innovative transformation of the biogenic fraction of municipal solid waste into chemicals with an economic value greater than what could be achieved if it was used as an energy source. WASTE 2 GO