With 2021 drawing to a close amidst a growing threat of new Covid-19 restrictions, it’s easy to think we’re in a similar place to where we were 12 months ago. But over the last year, we’ve achieved a lot and we deserve to look back with a sense of achievement. We’ve witnessed the development and rollout of vaccines, society’s approach to safely opening up from lockdowns and we’ve developed ways to live and function during a global pandemic. Although we’re still not yet behind the days of the pandemic, we’ve come a long way and that’s something to remember this holiday season.
2021 also saw a number of factors affect the waste management industry which had direct implications for many other industry sectors around the UK. Challenging market forces, driver shortages, changes in legislation and rising energy costs all directly impacted the collection, movement and disposal of waste from almost every industry in the UK.
Brexit and the HGV Driver Shortages
In the UK 2021 saw a unique set of challenges not only centered around the global pandemic. Brexit happened after years of discussion, debate, delay and friction points were felt throughout both the waste sector and society as a whole.
Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers became a rare and in-demand commodity. The HGV driver market was hit hard by both the pandemic and changes to the UK’s post-Brexit work laws. Covid-19 lockdowns had seen a lot of European drivers return home to bunker down with their families and when Brexit kicked in, it made it difficult for these drivers to then return to the UK. This was almost immediately felt across the waste management sector as market forces saw strict competition for drivers between other industries like food and retail. Many of the UK’s local councils simply couldn’t compete on driver wages and this left waste collection routes at risk all over the country.
GPT Waste mitigated this risk for many of our clients through careful management of our extensive network of waste operators. By being able to lean on a wider and more expansive network of partners, GPT was able to limit the effect felt by our clientele.
The UK Energy Crisis Heated Up
2021 also saw the continued and sustained threat of the UK energy crisis. With the vast majority of the UK’s energy imported, we remained exposed to the international competition in the market. Higher prices of energy instantly put pressure on both homes and businesses. Costs for energy-intensive manufacturing were sent soaring along with the costs of heating homes as the winter months crept closer. This saw the appetite for energy from the Energy-from-Waste (EFW) sector reach an all-time high.
The impact this had on waste streams was profound. The UK saw more waste burned than ever before. Recycling rates plummeted in the wake of the dog-fight for waste to keep the EFW plants burning and churning out electricity. Although EFW has its place in the waste management hierarchy when it comes to the cost of re-using and recycling it upends the sustainability equation. This in turn impacts company green credentials as well-planned company waste management policies can go out the window if your carefully curated waste all ends up in the same truck heading to your nearest EFW plant.
As more and more companies (and their shareholders) put importance on carbon footprints and sustainability, losing control over where your waste goes can literally see sustainability plans go up in flames.
GPT Waste focuses on end-to-end waste stream management. It is data tracked and reported. We help ensure that waste is efficiently, cost-effectively, and environmentally disposed of with the best possible outcomes in mind.
Big Data – More Clarity
GPT Waste continued to invest in industry-leading technology and data management throughout 2021. This is becoming increasingly important as firms need to be able to track their waste from both a fiscal and an environmental standpoint. More and more there’s pressure on firms to have full end-to-end transparency over their waste streams. If there’s no data or transparency after waste leaves your firm, then there’s any number of ways your waste can be costing your environmental sustainability model and your bottom line waste cost.
In 2022 GPT Waste will continue to roll out one of the most robust data management and reporting services to track waste streams. If your stakeholders and shareholders aren’t asking for clarity over your complete waste stream, maybe 2022 is the year that they will.
The 2022 Crystal Ball
Ultimately, it’s hard to predict exactly where we will be headed in 2022 while the pandemic still rages on. However, there are some trends that we can almost bet on with certainty that will be affecting the waste industry.
Inflation and rising waste management costs will be widespread. Mergers and acquisitions will continue throughout the waste industry and this drives the bargaining power of firms down when only the big few are on offer for waste collection and management. This further drives up the importance of cost and waste management reviews. As the UK’s leading independent waste management firm we’ve got industry knowledge, bargaining, and buying power to keep a firm grip on costs.
Supply chain and HGV driver issues are likely to continue into the new year. This will lead to disruption across much of the logistics sector and it’s likely to still impact local waste collection routes which will affect both homes and businesses. Being able to lean on the team at GPT in these times of crisis helps to mitigate the risk to your business.
Although the news surrounding the pandemic and the looming threat of more lockdowns does its best to dim the Christmas cheer, it’s important to remember that tough times don’t last forever. The year’s end is time to reflect and relax, put challenges aside for the moment, and refresh ahead of the new year.
From all of the team at GPT Waste, it’s been a pleasure working and serving our customers in 2021. We’ve seen so many of our clients rise above challenges with an inspiring attitude to push through and to get the job done. We’ve witnessed an overwhelming sense of community and a warming sense of the value of sticking together to get through the tough times. It’s these moments that we should look back on over the break with fondness.
We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year.
See you in 2022!
(Please note: Our office remains open throughout the Christmas period should you have any waste management issues that are urgent, please call us on 0844 854 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)