21 August 2003

Avon Friends of the Earth goes into receivership

Pioneering community-based recyclers Avon Friends of the Earth has gone into receivership after experiencing financial difficulties.

The group was established in the 1970s and played a major role in the early development of UK recycling. It had grown to a turnover of about 6 million a year, providing kerbside recycling collections for 400,000 households in the south west of England.

Avon FoE went into receivership yesterday (20/08/03) and has now seen its six local authority contracts transferred to London-based ECT Recycling, the largest community-based recycler in the UK.

Involving a total of about 40,000 tonnes of material each year, contracts with four Somerset councils and Bristol city council have just under five years left to run, while the contract with Bath & North East Somerset comes to an end in May 2004.

Commenting on the announcement, Cedric Clapp one of the joint administrative receivers at Bristol accountants Baker Tilly, told letsrecycle.com: “The business is now being transferred to ECT Recycling, which will continue the contracts under its own name. Companies in the Avon Friends of the Earth Group are no longer trading, they will be tidied up and closed down. However, all the employees involved will be transferred to ECT and will continue working with these contracts.”

Transferred
About 200 workers will be transferred from Avon FoE to ECT Recycling, with no job losses or disruption to recycling services expected.

Commenting on the development, Stephen Sears, chief executive of ECT, said: “The news about Avon Friends of the Earth is obviously very sad, but we have worked very hard with the support of their local authority partners to safeguard as many services and jobs as possible. This is good news because the business is being transferred to another social enterprise.

“We aim to ensure that things are very much ‘business as usual’ and that there is no disruption to recycling services.”

Mr Sears added: “We have spent 24 years running services for local communities. We intend to build upon the pioneering work of Avon Friends of the Earth, investing in staff training, new equipment and new systems to produce the best, most efficient recycling services possible.”

Breaking new ground in the use of multi-cage collection vehicles for sorting materials at the kerbside, Avon FoE has had a long-standing relationship with Bath and North East Somerset council. This helped the authority win the Local Authority Recycling and Advisory Committee's first local authority recycling award in 1994, and attain Beacon status for its waste management in 1999.

Jane Stephenson, executive director of the Recycling Consortium (TRC), said: “We are very sorry to lose Avon Friends of the Earth as a member of TRC but we look forward to seeing the further initiatives that ECT will bring to the challenge of developing recycling in the West Country.”

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