16 December 2019 by Joshua Doherty

NLWA ‘disappointed’ over Bywaters withdrawal

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) released a statement today (16 December) expressing disappointment that recycling firm Bywaters is “unable to honour” a contract awarded for processing the authority’s dry recyclables.

In July, the NLWA awarded renewed contracts, believed to be worth circa £90 million, to Biffa and Bywaters for the processing of mixed dry recyclables which were due to start today.

Inside the Bywaters MRF in East London

Both businesses had previously carried out recycling work for the Authority.

The deal was split between ten lots, with eight going to Biffa and the other two going to Bywaters (see letsrecycle.com story). It will initially run until 2025, with the option to extend by another five years.


However, in the statement, the Authority said that after “several months of co-operation in preparation for the contract start”, Bywaters approached the Authority in December seeking changes to the contract.

“The Authority made clear that the proposals were not acceptable, and therefore the contract with them will not be implemented,” the statement notes.

The lots which were awarded to Biffa come into effect today, and the NLWA said the operation of the new service will “begin as planned.”


It is understood that Bywaters reassessed the impact of the contract before it started in light of a number of factors which are thought to relate to the quality of material, markets pricing risk and the cost of sorting and consequently sought more flexibility under the contract terms.

And, Bywaters emphasised today that it “remains willing to receive material from the NLWA”.


The Authority said it has sufficient capacity in its recycling contract in the short term to ensure that service delivery will not be affected in light of the Bywaters’ decision. In the New Year, the Authority will consider whether it needs to explore other options to meets its recycling capacity requirements.

Biffa’s Edmonton MRF

The NLWA is made up of seven boroughs in North London – Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest.


In this morning’s statement, Andrew O’Connor, head of strategy and services at NLWA, said: “Today marks the continuation of a long and productive partnership with Biffa. The new contract will help the Authority push ahead with activity to encourage greater recycling in north London,” he said.

Mr O’Connor added: “The Authority tendered a series of contracts to achieve the recycling capacity required; it is extremely disappointing that Bywaters have indicated at this late stage that they are now unable to honour the contract awarded in July.”


As part of the contract announced in the summer, each lot was worth around  £8.9 million and involve handling between 9,000 to 15,000 tonnes of recyclable waste per year.

The contract will see Biffa process material at its Edmonton MRF, describing it as it’s “biggest ever” MRF contract, while Bywaters were due to process around 30,000 tonnes of material at its East London MRF.


In recent months there was a court case brought by the Environment Agency against Biffa over the quality of recyclables exported from North London (see letsrecycle.com story).

One of the ‘bin your nappy’ campaign graphics

The quality of recyclables arising from NLWA residents is an ongoing issue and a campaign to stop nappies being placed in recycling was launched by Biffa and NLWA.

The chair of the NLWA, Councillor Clyde Loakes, said in July: “It’s hard to overestimate the scale of this unsavoury problem. We know parents want to do the right thing.  That’s why we’re asking parents to put used nappies in the general waste bin. Contamination of recycling damages the environment, is costly for taxpayers and leaves recycling centre staff having to remove soiled nappies by hand.”

Cllr Loakes said the cost of contaminated recycling in the borough wasaround £1.5 million, when he launched the ‘bin your nappy’ campaign in July (see letsrecycle.com story).


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