The recycling industry in the UK must focus more on quality to capitalise on its strengths as a region for processing secondary materials, according to business and financial adviser Grant Thornton.
The company’s annual review of mergers and acquisitions in the UK sector found that 2017 was a record year with around 50 deals. Recycling businesses accounted for 42% of the deals and the total, 21 in all, was up 50% on 2016.
Director Mike Read, who wrote the report, believes one trend likely to drive future activity is heightened public interest in recycling. ‘The industry has been increasingly focused on joining the circular economy through tapping into the manufacturing ecosystem, specifically in recycling,’ Read says.
China and Brexit
‘There is a growing recognition that the UK has to become more self-sufficient with regards to material management. China’s limit on plastic imports and the Brexit-driven uncertainty of the RDF export market have created a situation where the UK would make an ideal material processing region, but the facilities aren’t up to the task.’
He adds that this requires ‘a real commitment to recycling and recovery, focusing on the country’s ability to improve the quality of waste materials which can be reprocessed effectively’ – but says the industry is responding.
Another trend he identifies is the rise in electric car use which will increase demand for lithium batteries.As the UK cannot sustainably continue to buy batteries from overseas, recycling of battery materials will need to play a greater part, Read says.