Wakefield Council makes less cash than expected from £750m PFI deal with Renewi

Wakefield Council has made less money than it expected from a £750m PFI deal with a contractor, officers have admitted.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 4:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 4:12 pm
The council signed a deal with Renewi in 2013, which involved the company running this waste management facility in South Kirkby.

The local authority signed an agreement with Renewi, formerly known as Shanks, in 2013, to take over the area's waste management.

Renewi runs a rubbish sorting depot in South Kirkby and employs more than 100 local people as part of the deal.

But officers told a scrutiny meeting on Monday that it has not made as much cash from the scheme as was hoped, because people are producing less waste.

Speaking during a presentation about the deal, committee member Lawrence Doyle asked: "Initially when this came in a few years ago, there was an indication that the council would be making a reasonable amount of money out of this contract. Is that the case?"

Julie Greenwood, the council officer who oversees the Renewi deal, replied: "There's a couple of factors here. So the (South Kirkby) facility's been built to deal with the waste that’s generated in the 2030s.

"At the moment the waste levels we’re generating are below what we envisaged. So we’ve got more capacity that we’ve not filled in.

"The opportunity to generate more revenue from bringing in other people’s waste from other local authorities hasn’t materialised.

"In addition to that, packaging is a lot lighter than it was 10 years ago, even five years ago. Cans are more lightweight, packaging is more lightweight."

Ms Greenwood said that the authority was recycling significantly less paper than in previous years because of an increasingly digital world.

It was also explained that the council does not recycle yoghurt pots and plastic trays, because there is no appropriate place to send them on afterwards.

The meeting was told that other councils have had waste "sent to the Malaysian jungle" in a way that is "unsustainable".

Ms Greenwood said the council had a policy of not sending waste abroad, to ensure it does not fall on communities unable to deal with it.

Local Democracy Reporting Service