SWP carries out ‘due diligence’ on Biffa’s Viridor deal

The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) is carrying out “due diligence” before Biffa takes over running the county’s household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) from Viridor.

The Priorswood HWRC in Taunton is one of Somerset's 16 sites

Biffa agreed to acquire Viridor’s industrial and commercial (I&C) waste collections business and “certain recycling assets” for £126 million in May (see letsrecycle.com story).

These assets included a contract covering the operation of Somerset’s 16 HWRCs, composting, the operation of delivery points and the transportation of waste.

Viridor has managed the HWRCs on behalf of the SWP since 2006, and signed a nine-year, £80 million contract extension in 2019 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Biffa’s proposed deal received approval from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in early July, clearing the way for the deal to be completed on 31 August.

The “due diligence” carried out by the SWP is a separate process. The local authority waste team’s managing director, Mickey Green, told letsrecycle.com yesterday (26 August) that the checks were to make the transition as seamless as possible.

He said: “Carrying out due diligence ensures that everything is above board. The contract will not change, so we’re just making sure that everything stays the same.”

Mr Green said the process was mostly administrative and involved an examination of terms and conditions, and though it would be “tight”, the checks should be finished by the end of the month.

Somerset

Representing an estimated population of more than 560,000, the SWP had a household waste recycling rate of 52.9% in the 2019/20 financial year.

Somerset
The SWP manages waste and recycling services for all local authorities in Somerset

Biffa’s deal also includes Viridor’s anaerobic digestion plant and composting facility in Walpole, near Bridgwater.

It does not include the 320,000 tonnes per year capacity energy from waste (EfW) plant in Avonmouth, of which Viridor took control in December 2020 (see letsrecycle.com story). Having been taken over by global investment firm KKR in July 2020, Viridor is now focusing on EfW and selling off most of its recycling assets.

Under a separate 10-year contract which began in 2020, waste management firm Suez carries out household waste and recycling collections in Somerset on the SWP’s behalf (see letsrecycle.com story). Mr Green told letsrecycle.com that this was separate to the SWP’s deal with Viridor, so the transfer to Biffa should not affect collections.

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