28 September 2012

Harrow council uses e-auction to sell recyclables

By Caelia Quinault

Harrow council has become one of the first local authorities in the country to sell its recyclables in an online e-auction in a bid to maximise the price it receives for the material.

The council used an e-bay style system earlier this month to sell 100% of its dry recyclables for the next year to waste management firm Viridor. Three contractors who also included Bywaters and Biffa – were invited to submit sealed bids stating how much they were willing to pay per tonne for the material. The real-time competitive environment of an online auctionwas intendedto increase the price paid for the material.

(l-r) Harrow Cllr Thaya Idaikkadar and site manager Phil Halpin

(l-r) Harrow Cllr Thaya Idaikkadar and site manager Phil Halpin

Harrow council has historically paid for its recyclables to be taken away but in 2010/11 it received an income for the material for the first time. The online e-auction system builds on this approach and is intended to create further benefits for the council. Last year, the local authority received 36 a tonne for its material, plus a share in any profits above a baseline sell-on price of 78 a tonne, meaning that it generated 900,000 from 19,000 tonnes of material.

The online auction was provided by procurement software specialist BravoSolution and has cost the council 5.517. However, the council said that this was covered by the increased savings/income achieved by the process. An online auction will now take place once a year.

Councillor Thaya Idaikkadar, Harrow councils deputy leader and portfolio holder for major contracts, said: Not only are we saving the environment we are saving taxpayers money too. We have managed to make so much money because our recycling rates are among the very best in London with more than 50% of all household waste being recycled.

I urge all residents to recycle even more because you are not only protecting front-line services from cuts you are protecting the planet from waste being unnecessarily sent to landfill. I am delighted that we have been this successful and will hopefully become common practice across all local authorities in years to come.


In 2008, Harrow launched a framework agreement for three contractors to bid for its recyclables (see letsrecycle.com story). The three companies who bid for the material this month are now on a new, four year framework agreement which began on September 1 2012.

The companies bid on a range of areas such as gate fee and profit share without seeing what the other companies were bidding. They are told what position they are in, such as first or second, and have the opportunity to submit a further bid within a time window. The winning bid is the one that generates the best income level for the council.

Related Links

Harrow council

Viridor has traditionally used its Crayford materials recycling facility in East London to sort and then sell on the council’s commingled recyclables.

Harrows dry recyclable waste, collected from residents blue wheeled bins, includes: aerosols; aluminium foil; cans; card; drinks cartons; glass; paper; and, plastic bottles and containers.

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