News in brief (26/08/21)

With news on: Bexley refuse strike suspended; Recolight CEO arrested during XR protest; Hamilton claims to attain carbon neutral status; and, Biffa invests in online waste collection marketplace

Bexley refuse strike suspended

The Unite union has suspended a six week waste services strike in Bexley after reaching a deal with the contractor Serco.

Serco and Unite have reached an agreement

Crews in Bexley began the industrial action against Serco on the 12 July with support from trade union over disputes on pay and “victimisation”.

The deal reached includes a one off £750 payment for 19 staff, contract changes that will reduce pay disparities and steps to prevent the “weaponization” of the drug and alcohol policy.

A statement from Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill warned that this is a ‘suspension’ of the strike rather than a complete end, however added that she feels “confident” that the final agreement can be reached between Unite and Serco by Monday.

The statement added that due to the disruption caused by the strike, “it will be some time” before collections return to normal.

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: “We are pleased that a provisional deal has been reached following an improved offer from Serco. While the deal is being ratified, which we expect to happen by the end of the week, our members will go back to work and bin collections in Bexley will resume. Until this deal is enacted in full, however, strikes are being suspended not cancelled, and our members retain the option to return to the picket line if they need to do so.”

Recolight CEO arrested during XR protest

Recolight CEO Nigel Harvey was arrested while taking part in an Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest in London yesterday (24 August).

Mr Harvey was locked on to a pink tube as part of the protest

Mr Harvey was taken to Walworth police station at 9.15am for “failing to comply” with a police instruction to end the protest. He was released at 8.30pm the same day.

During the protest, Mr Harvey was locked on to a giant pink tube erected by XR for over 20 hours at a busy junction near Leicester Square tube station.

He was also arrested in October 2019 and September 2020 while taking part in other climate protests.

Speaking about his arrest, Mr Harvey explained: “The recent IPCC report was crystal clear. Unless immediate and radical action is taken to decarbonise our societies, we face climate breakdown, with a bleak outlook for humanity. I find that prospect terrifying.

“ And although our government has put some ambitious emissions reduction targets in place, there are still no credible plans in place to deliver against those targets. Conversely, many of their policies, such as the largest ever road building programme, or a new oilfield in Shetland, will make matters far worse.  That makes the Government’s emissions targets a sham.  But given that the UK has the COP presidency this year, we could be setting a good example for other governments to follow.”

Hamilton claims to attain carbon neutral status

Hamilton Waste & Recycling has claimed to have become the first Scottish waste management company to achieve a carbon neutral status.

Hamilton will plant trees to sequester carbon from its recycling operations

The company said it follows a “committed programme” of reduction and offsetting initiatives to cut its carbon production.

This includes the installation of solar panels and introduction of electric vehicles to the company’s fleet.

Hamilton has also announced the launch of its Trees for Life project, where it will plant approximately 5600 trees – enough to sequester 100% of the carbon generated by its waste collection and recycling activities – in the Caledonian forest in the Scottish Highlands.

Hamilton’s managing Director, Robin Stevenson, said: “Whilst the net effect of our operations is hugely carbon positive, we must also take full responsibility for the carbon we produce as a direct result of our recycling activities.

“Our primary focus is always on reducing our emissions but we are also realistic and accept that, for the foreseeable future, there will be an amount of carbon that we are unable to eliminate.  For that reason, we have decided to join the Trees for Life project which also delivers a host of other ecological and community benefits.”

Biffa invests in online waste collection marketplace

Online waste collection and reuse marketplace, LoveJunk, has received funding from Biffa.

Biffa said LoveJunk is an exciting example of how technology can be used to reach smaller operators

The app and web-based marketplace connects licensed waste collectors and reuse organisations with people and businesses requiring on-demand removal of junk and bulky waste.

The investment by Biffa will be used to support LoveJunk’s rollout across the UK and further develop its product offering.

LoveJunk was launched in June 2020 and currently operates throughout Greater London, Surrey and Kent.

Jason Mohr, founder and CEO of LoveJunk, said: “We are delighted to welcome Biffa as a shareholder. In addition to the growth capital, the involvement of such a highly regarded industry player strengthens our credibility in the market and will help open commercial opportunities across both the private and public sector as we scale-up the business.”

Michael Topham, chief executive of Biffa, added that LoveJunk is an “exciting example” of how technology can be used to harness the reach and capacity of smaller waste collection operators.

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