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Wednesday, 28 May 2014 12:29

- Exclusive Interview - PPPs Integrated Solid Waste Management: The experience of Manchester

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 - Exclusive Interview -

 PPPs Integrated Solid Waste Management: The experience of Manchester


PPPs Workshop1

D-WasteEPEM SA and Grant Thornton, co-organized a special event last March in Greece, with the support of the British Embassy in Athens, entitled “PPPs Integrated Solid Waste Management: The opportunities of Greece and the experience of Manchester" presenting the course of implementation, as well as the existing experiences, from the larger *PPP project in solid waste management in Europe .

( Click here to download the presentation )

The Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority along with Viridor Laing, they have created a network of state-of-the-art recycling and waste management facilities in the context of a 25 year private finance initiative (PFI) contract. Within a 776 million Euros construction programme, they've offered a long-term sustainable solution for the 1.1 million tonnes of municipal waste.

The Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, the biggest **WDA in England, serves 9 of the association of Greater Manchester Authorities’ (AGMA’s) Waste Collection Authorities (WCAs) and disposes the 5% of the nation’s waste.

We are delighted to host an exclusive interview with Mr Stephen Jenkinson (Chief Executive Officer, Viridor Laing Limited) from the concessionaire, CEO of the PPP project and with Mr. John Bland, Secretary General of the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority from the contracting authority.

Recently, in our workshop in Greece, the British Ambassador, Mr. John Kitmer, pointed out that "Waste Management is a major challenge for Great Britain as it is estimated to cost 3.8 billion euros in British state, creating an industry total turnover of 14.5 billion euros". How easy it was for you to overcome the difficulties brought by the economic crisis in the banking system and how you've ensured the political consensus in your efforts?

The Credit Crisis, as it is now commonly known, proved to be a major obstacle for us due entirely to the state of the Banking system, and the lack of both liquidity and almost no appetite for risk in the 2008/ 2009 period. Put simply we were near to financial close in March 2008, and ended up being able to close just over 12 months later. During that time we ran 3 waves of 4 banks through the process, before getting enough to see through to close the deal. In April 2013 our banking consortium comprised 4 commercial banks (Bank of Ireland, SMBC, BBVA and Lloyds Banking Group), EIB, HM Treasury (via TIFU) and the Authority itself.

We were fortunate in being able to secure all party political support throughout the procurement process. That however took a lot of effort to achieve at first, but we tried a very open and engaging approach to get views of the public and politicians. That meant we were able to come up with consensus of what we wanted, and after that keeping a firm grip on the goal we set enabled all to rally to the cause.

What about the situation in Greater Manchester when you started the program? What changes have been made since then and which is the degree of participation of citizens in recycling and materials recovery programs?

We started to think about what we wanted to do to deliver sustainable waste management back in 2002. At that stage recycling was about 4% and around 90% of our waste went to landfill. In the early 2000 we introduced some kerbside collection schemes which started to get citizens used to recycling and that meant we were able to climb towards 20% recycling, but most of our waste still ended up in landfill. This year we anticipate that recycling will be over 45%, on the way to 50% in 2015/16, and we estimate that our landfill avoidance will reach 79% in 2014/15 on its way to 85% and hopefully even higher.

How important do you think is the consent of citizens and the public awareness in the implementation of such waste management programs?

Very very important. By comparison building 42 state of the art facilities is relatively easy. If our citizens do not recycle right and get the right stuff in the right bin then we cannot hope to deliver on what we promise. We are also finding that it’s not enough just to ask people to recycle once. The message needs to repeated regularly so that progress is not reversed, and also to dispel myths such as “why bother when it’s all landfilled anyway”. Our recent launch of our own compost, produced from food and green waste recycling through our In Vessel Compositing facilities, is such a great way to show what happens when citizens give us their waste correctly sorted.

How do citizens benefit from their participation in recycling, and waste prevention programs and what is the role of local authorities in changing peoples' behavior?

By recycling right all the time our citizens are helping to halt climate change (287,000 tonne CO2 equivalent is avoided) and also it saves money. On the money side we found a good way of expressing what we were doing, so for each household per week for £1 extra we invested £631m in state of the art facilities, compared to having to charge £2 per week for doing nothing. That was due to the landfill directive and associated national UK tax.

Local authorities have to be part of the partnership to change behaviors. On waste that role is central but requires a generational shift of attitudes. We are particularly proud of our award winning education Programme. That links into the national curriculum, and generates great interest for 8 year old, whose work culminates in seeing what our facilities actually do. On top of that there has to be a financial aspect, whether that is by increasing costs (via tax or a changing for what you throw – pay as you through basis) or incentivising through rewarding good behaviors.

Could you tell us more about your Zero Waste vision in Greater Manchester and your priorities for years to come?

To us zero waste is about not wasting anything, and that follows the waste hierarchy approach; so we first avoid waste, encourage reuse, recycle and recover (via efficient energy (electricity and steam) production, only landfilling what we cannot do anything else with.

Our priorities are about getting better at recycling (60% by 2025) and pushing landfill avoidance upto, and hopefully beyond, 90%. That will require us to push at boundaries and with some exciting developments about using “bottom ash” and producing hydrogen in detailed development we are confident that we will, with help and active participation from our citizens, succeed.

(*PPP: Public–private partnership, **WDA:  Waste Disposal Authority)

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