Local authorities are missing a trick, says WRAP

Written by: RWW | Published:
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A report commissioned by WRAP entitled Approaches to the marketing of dry recyclables by local authorities shows that in 2012/13, English local authorities spent £3.9bn collecting 25 million tonnes of waste. At the same time, the Local Government Association calculated that on average, councils were capturing a little over a quarter of the full market value of materials they collected.

A report commissioned by WRAP entitled Approaches to the marketing of dry recyclables by local authorities shows that in 2012/13, English local authorities spent £3.9bn collecting 25 million tonnes of waste. At the same time, the Local Government Association calculated that on average, councils were capturing a little over a quarter of the full market value of materials they collected.

“If local authorities secured even 40% of potential revenue, this could accumulate more than £820m additional income by 2019/20," said a WRAP spokesperson before adding: “If LAs need to collect materials they may as well get the most financial return from them as possible."

While the report highlights the opportunities that taking a more flexible approach to local authority finance can bring, WRAP warned that taking advantage of the potential for greater income from material sales may require a degree of change in attitude and will entail continuous monitoring and evaluation of markets and commercial risks.

“For many local authorities, receiving income from the sale of dry recyclables that is in line with an annual budget and maintaining a stable budget from year-to-year are important factors, allowing the funding of services to be planned far more easily," stated the report.

Linda Crichton, head of resource management at WRAP, said: “With local authorities spending significant amounts on waste collection, it's imperative they get the best possible financial return for the materials they collect for recycling.

“To help, WRAP has developed a guide for local authority officers to help them select the right materials sales strategy for their circumstances; exploring key commercial considerations such as the pricing mechanism to be used, material quality and operational requirements.

"There are choices; some authorities may want to market their materials directly while others may team up to greater effect or work with their contractor. What's important is that local authorities recognise this opportunity to generate more revenue from recyclate and choose to investigate their options."

Dr Adam Read, practice director - resource efficiency & waste management at Ricardo-AEA, told RWW he agrees “wholeheartedly" with much of what WRAP's report suggests.

“In our own work with LAs it has been those willing to work in partnership, bulking materials of similar quality, and negotiating with the market as a larger player that are getting the best rates for all materials," said Read.

According to Neil Grundon at Grundon Waste Management: "Pricing co-mingled recycling contracts fairly is difficult for both the local authority and materials recovery facility (MRF) operators.

"Also, as a nation, we have developing legislation such as the MRF Code of Practice and the revised waste framework directive (TEEP), which is having a positive effect, however, this is adding to our already increasing overheads."

Grundon added: "Running MRFs that produce a high quality recyclate is expensive.

"The biggest gripe I have is that the government and local authorities can't have it both ways; with high business rates and taxes on company profits and low gate fees and rebates. We have to work together to develop a sustainable relationship."

- To read the report, visit http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/approaches-marketing-dry-recyclables-local-authorities



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