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Surrey highlights the ‘evolution of the waste sector’

Viridor’s former CEO Colin Drummond recently presented on transforming waste, a topic that is high up on the agenda of local authorities and government.

His talk covered the strides the UK’s recycling industry has made in recent years, helping the country move from being seen as the ‘dirty man of Europe’ to a position at the forefront of Europe’s waste management industry.  

At a local level, this can be seen in a major waste tender issued by four local authorities within Surrey, including Elmbridge, Mole Valley, Surrey Heath and Woking. They have teamed up to procure a joint waste collection contract valued at more than £100m. 

The draft waste service specification is designed to last for between eight and ten years, with the potential to be extended to 2040. It involves fortnightly recycling and weekly food waste collections. Suggestions were also invited from potential bidders on innovative ways to handle absorbent hygiene products (AHPs) such as nappies.

It is really encouraging to see local authorities begin to focus on the recycling of AHPs, which have traditionally been disposed of at landfill sites. This is a reflection of local government’s desire to use waste as a resource and reduce landfill costs. 

The length and scale of Surrey’s Joint Waste Collection Contract Project highlights a clear aim to improve waste services as a whole. The initiative is led by project manager Eve Risbridger, who has visited potential AHP bidders to discuss innovative and efficient ways of working and help meet local ambitions for waste reduction.  

Following a competitive bidding process, it is expected that the contract will be awarded in the autumn. 

As the pioneers of AHP recycling in Europe – from nappies to incontinence pads – we hope that Surrey becomes an inspiration for other local authorities.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of interest in the future management of AHP waste. Knowaste has received a number of enquiries from local authorities, which suggests a sea change is on the horizon. 

Drummond’s ‘evolution of the waste sector’ presentation highlights the possibility that the astonishing volumes of AHP waste going to landfill will drop significantly in future, as recognition of its use as a resource grows. 

For more information on Knowaste and our recycling initiatives; via our website or tweet us @Knownappywaste 


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