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Waste Management Series: How to grow your business effectively

The waste management sector is growing and experienced professionals are in demand. With the pressures the industry currently faces, finding exceptional talent is key to overcoming those challenges and growing efficiently.

The signs for waste management are promising

Following several government policy changes on waste and resources in 2017, including a ban on food waste to landfill by 2030 and a reduction in carbon emissions, there has been renewed focus on the environment and a commitment to “make the UK a world leader in terms of competitiveness, resource productivity and resource efficiency”. Along with this renewed focus, rising populations and growth in number of households, there are other promising signs suggesting that the UK’s waste management sector is primed for expansion.

  • The UK recycling rate for Waste from Households (WfH; including IBA metal) was 45.2% in 2016, increasing from 44.6% in 2015. There is an EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020.
  • Grant Thornton claims that merger and acquisition activity was up 26% in 2016 compared to the previous year, with 48 deals having completed.

This trend can be seen by the fact that once troubled waste management companies, have turned their fortunes around through careful restructuring and diversification. Biffa is a case in point, recently announcing it had been recognised amongst the ‘strongest business brands in the UK’ in an annual Superbrands B2B ranking. This comes following a period of streamlining and careful acquisition planning in order to drive efficiencies, including acquisition of Cory Environmental’s waste collection business in June 2016 and the regional collection and processing business, Blakeley’s in September 2016.

Margin pressures and policy uncertainties remain

Although the signs for the waste management sector are promising, there are challenging times ahead. The Brexit vote has created uncertainty about the future direction of UK waste policy, which has previously been driven by the EU. Margins are also under continuing pressure in both the highly competitive Industrial and Commercial collection sector and the Municipal sector, with councils increasingly turning to alternative delivery models to reduce costs and meet strained budgets, and contractors rapidly trying to disassociate themselves with municipal dealings. At the same time, recycling prices remain low, further exacerbating margin pressure for waste collectors. [1]

Waste Management professionals in demand

Another problem facing the waste management sector is finding the skills and experience needed to drive business performance. Environmental legislation is in the spotlight and along with changing technologies, require businesses to be able to adapt and innovate in order to survive. Although overall growth in the UK economy for 2018 was projected at just 1.4%, lower than expected, the UK is still experiencing its lowest unemployment rate since 1971. Talent shortages are nothing new, and continue to be a theme thanks to a shrinking workforce. Within the waste sector, where competition for experienced senior roles within niche disciplines is rife, finding the top performers becomes even harder. Take a look at our recent blog ‘the truth about your next senior hire’. The points made are relevant to many industries, but none more than waste management. The key to maintaining growth whilst managing these uncertainties effectively isn’t just hiring more people. It’s hiring the right people with the right experience.

Newman Stewart is a leading executive search firm, delivering high performing candidates to high profile and difficult to fulfil assignments. Since 2011 we have been sourcing and selecting talent for the waste management sector. With an extensive network of waste management professionals, our specialist consultants are ideally positioned to find the skills your business needs to thrive in these challenging times. Our clients include VonRoll, Crabb Engineering, and Harpers Environmental. Our key disciplines include hazardous waste, clinical waste, chemical services, minerals, radioactive waste, and waste oil.

[1] Waste not want not. The changing face of the UK waste sector

Call our waste management specialist Consultant’s now on 01937 541395

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