Government urged for clarity on recycling after plant closures

Extreme risks facing recycling operations, due partly to the volatility in commodity markets, have been brought into stark view by the closure of two massive waste treatment plants in Lancashire.  The MBT – mechanical biological treatment – centres in Farington and Thornton were built through a a 25 year PFI deal between Lancashire County Council and Global Renewables. But the council has confirmed to the Daily Mail that after taking back control of the loss-making plants, they will no longer process waste for recycling. Instead they will be used for transferring waste to other sites by road for recycling or landfill.

Industry is viewing the closures as confirmation of the difficulties facing the waste processing industry due to the risks involved and is calling on government to show greater leadership on targets and guidance to keep recycling on track.

"Waste companies are exposed to considerable risks and with commodity prices at a very low point partly due to low oil prices, business models are starting to fall down. The sense is that this will not be an isolated incident," said Environmental Industries Commission executive director Matthew Farrow.

The MBT type of waste processing operation is regarded as particularly risk prone, Farrow said. MBT plants are expensive to build with a lot of mechanical equipment designed for handling specific quantities of different types of feedstock. Plants are exposed to risk of this changing and not remaining consistent in different areas.

"Waste companies need greater leadership from government to increase or maintain recycling rates. All of the major political parties have stated their commitment, but after grabbing the low hanging fruit, they are not saying anything about it. While government budgets on giving advice have been slashed, industry needs indication of policy commitment and clarity over whether recycling targets will stay at 50%, or have they given up?" Farrow said.

Global Renewables is an Australian company, which may not have had sufficient knowledge of the UK recycling market. "But highly experienced, well-known UK companies have expressed their concerns over the risks they face due to regional variations and inconsistencies that complicate the market and make low risk design very difficult," Farrow said. "With commodity prices so volatile, it may be that local authorities will have to share some of the the risk to make business models stack up in future. It's a thorny issue but one that may have to be addressed." 



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In every country, government is taking possible steps to deal with environmental pollution and recycling issues. So that, they are able to provide a better environment for people and utilize the waste and unused materials. Industries and manufacturing companies also jump in the recycling process after government involvement to produce good recycling products and to promote recycling concept.