17 November 2000

BGRC breakup could see glass contracts passed to Biffa

Dramatic changes in the way glass recycling is organised in the UK are on the cards with the potential closure of the British Glass Recycling Company as it is now and the supply of cullet to United Glass taken on by Biffa Waste Services.

For the past five years the British Glass Recycling Company (BGRC) has been responsible for almost half of the 550,000 tonnes of glass delivered for local authorities to the glassmakers. It has long term contracts with many local authorities for the supply of bottle bank glass to its two principal shareholders, Rockware and United Glass.

In its heyday BGRC was a major force in the markets. But, its operations in recent months have been affected by some differences of opinion between the two shareholders. And, earlier this year Rockware celebrated the opening of the Reuse dedicated processing plant adjacent to its Knottingley glassworks. Reuse said that it would source cullet directly from some local authorities.

Rockware has had a lukewarm relationship with BGRC in past months. If it left the organisation this would see BGRC having just one shareholder. Observers suggest that this would then give United Glass the option to turn BGRC into its own cullet supply business taking on many of the contracts, with some perhaps being transferred to Rockware.

The link between Biffa and BGRC/United Glass comes because the waste management giant has found itself heavily involved in the glass sector through the acquisition of UK Waste. The latter ran a cullet processing plant for United Glass in Harlow and Biffa now has responsibility for this.

It is thought that United Glass is now in secret talks to pass its share of the BGRC contracts to Biffa should BGRC's work come to an end.

The situation is further complicated by questions over the future role of one of the industry’s major collectors – Berrymans. The firm owns more bottlebanks than anyone else. It is thought likely Berrymans will become an important supplier to Rockware’s Reuse plant, especially as it has developed a special contract package for local authorities with the support of Larac, the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee.

However, agreements may be complicated because of the recent appearance of Valpak on the scene which is itself organising glass collections. However, so far the compliance scheme is only using one collector, Glass Recycling UK. This material will be used by Rexam. But, the company is not a major user of green glass so Valpak may send some of the surplus green glass for aggregates use (to obtain PRNs), even though there is a demand for the green material from glassmakers such as Rockware.

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