8 May 2001

Onyx beats WRG to £1.3 billion 30-year Sheffield contract

Onyx Aurora has won a £1.3 billion contract for Sheffield City Council’s integrated waste management service, beating rival WRG – Waste Recycling Group.

The 30-year contract, starting in August this year, includes refuse  collection, disposal, recycling and recovery together with responsibility for the city’s district heating  network and generation of electricity at the city’s Bernard Road incinerator.

WRG has been asked to remain reserve bidder until negotiations between Onyx and the council are completed.

Council chief executive Bob Kerslake said on Friday (May 4): “We are pleased with the bid put forward by Onyx. Outsourcing is the best option available for integrated waste management services in the city.”

The deal will enable the council to pay off the £28 million debt run up during a refit of the incinerator to bring it up to European standards. Work started in
1990 but the incinerator has only recently become fully operational again.

Onyx chief executive Michel Gourvennec said he was delighted to win the contract.  “Onyx is fully committed to the people of Sheffield to provide an environmentally friendly waste management service and committed to its employees to provide training and development opportunities,” he said.

GMB and Unison, representing 300 staff involved, said Onyx had guaranteed a 12-month no redundancy deal for binmen, but not for other staff. Some workers are unhappy with the deal and are considering industrial action, said union leaders. And, some local environmentalists are unhappy about the choice of Onyx because of previous incidents at the SARP plant which is now under the Onyx brand.

Sheffield has a population of 500,000 and produces 260,000 tonnes of waste per year. The contract includes:

  • management of the refuse collection service from 200,000 properties
  • development of a recycling scheme including introducing kerbside collection and building a materials recycling facility
  • operation of the existing energy from waste plant and cosntructing a new 225,000 tonne plant by autumn 2005
  • operation and development of existing district heating network.

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