Responding to the Challenges in Waste

By James Samworth, Partner, Foresight

As we hurtle through 2016, coming ever closer to the RWM conference in September, we at Foresight have been giving a lot of thought to the current environment of the waste industry and the funding opportunities that lie within.

There are many challenges facing the market at the moment and we certainly don’t have all the answers, so we’re keen to hear from the people who are deeply immersed in the waste business.

One of the challenges that we see as particularly prevalent is the change to Loss on Ignition ("LoI”) rules for MRF fines. The Environment Agency has tightened the level of LoI permitted in inert landfill and has introduced spot testing to ensure compliance. The cost difference between inert and active landfill is sufficient to drive investment in order to minimise costs and maintain competitiveness. MRF operators must look at their processes in a new context. Alongside cost, however; the challenge also encapsulates sampling and measurement. Extra equipment and advancements in sorting technology will only go so far in improving efficiencies; the true answer lies within investment in systems and operations.

The move towards compulsory segregation and separate collection of food waste for larger producers presents another looming challenge for the industry. The introduction of a new waste stream will require dedicated collection and treatment infrastructure and will also alter the waste composition in existing facilities. The change, even if implemented gradually, could be game changing for the industry and will require significant investment in both building new infrastructure facilities and upgrading plants currently in use. This process of investment will need to begin imminently so as to cope with the demand that new and changing waste streams will inevitably present to the industry.

The real answers to these challenges in the waste environment can’t come from a financier, but must come from those in the market who are deeply involved in the operations of the plants. The people who know these plants inside out, and who have the innovative ideas are those we’d love to be able to help bring them to fruition.

There is ever the perception of a lack of development and growth capital in the industry. However, this capital does exist, and growth in the industry is not all dependent on an impossible-to-get bank loan. Our "Recycling and Waste” fund can invest anything from £1m to £15m, so please bring your ideas to us at the show or in advance.

In short, we’re inviting you in the market to tell us; where are your challenges, where do you need money, and most importantly; how can we help?