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Well, it's not straightforward but it certainly is busy and I believe we face more challenges than ever before (challenges equals problems!!)


The massive positive is the strength of the economy and the pots of furlough cash/business support grants seem to be still in the system, we have seen a lot less companies going bust than normal and the industrial sector is very busy, this means more bins, more recycling, more waste and that Green Recycling is busier than ever.

Our staff have been fantastic, hard-working and loyal. Our drivers are in demand from the shortage of truck drivers that peaked in the middle of 2021 - that pressure has wained slightly and the ever upward wage pressure has abated for now. If you want to keep/recruit new drivers you have to pay great money, give them the right tool for the job and be flexible. We have a great team spirit and morale is very high.

Staff sickness has been a massive issue we've had at least two drivers a week off over the December/January period with Covid this puts them out for a minimum of a week - it is just something that we have to manage. This has been a great opportunity for me to get back to the floor! I had two weeks on dustcarts in the summer and have just had a week out on the frontend loader. This has been a huge eye-opener for me. Not only to see how hard the guys work; long hours, early starts, wind and rain, but to see how complex the world of taco cards, handheld PDA tablets, and the technology is.

I certainly learned a lot (and also got offered some cash to take extra waste - don't tell the boss!!)

I have to say our new Scania trucks are fantastic and comfortable to drive.

Having the right tool for the job is essential. We've come away from old fashion double drive axles (which used to be an essential when tipping on landfill) to real steer wheels. This makes getting in and out of tight jobs so much easier, the fuel economy is much better and it is cheaper on the maintenance of the vehicle.

(RTM). It is this progression that makes it cheaper and easier to run our fleet.

Supply line shortages — we just can't get anything!!

Trucks - We have four on order for this year which is great but we ordered these over 18 months ago, we currently can't put an order in for a new truck because the order book is not open. This is the first time I've ever had this happen. It is the same for parts, compactors and consumables. We have had to plan ahead even more than usual to keep the wheels rolling.

Along with the supply restriction prices have also risen sharply. A great example of this is the price of a 6yd skip to buy.

This used to be around £400 for a brand-new skip, now this is just under £1000. Now that is inflation!! Diesel fuel has risen also but not by anywhere near as much. In April 2022 we also have the banning of red diesel for plant and machinery. This is a cheaper diesel (tax) with a red dye in it for use in off road construction, agricultural, generators etc. This will add about £5000 per month to our fuel bill - inflation is definitely a worry for 2022.

Recycling Equipment - We have continue to invest in our recycling plant. Alongside MAX the robot we now have an TOMRA auto-sort paper and cardboard (OCC) optical sorter. This is doing a fantastic job of sorting out the paper and card from the two-dimensional waste. We have also installed an IMT ballistic separator, which separates the waste further, making it easier to identify and recycle. The wages of the human pickers is continuing to rise fast and the simple fact is that we just can't get people to sort through the waste.

2022 is going to be a year of further automation to recycle more with less manual picking.

We are also installing a BINDER screen at the start of our process, to size the incoming material 1) 0 - 50 mm 2) 50 - 400 mm 3) 400mm +

This will make the materials easier to handle and help us automate the process.

On a positive note: Materials prices, (the amount of money that we get for the stuff we recycle) are very strong.

OCC/card is over the magic £100 per ton mark.

Mix paper is strong, as is steel, iron scrap which reached £160 per ton at one point.

Glass jumped up at the end of December, (linked to the PRN, packaging recovery note price). Plastic hasn't wanted to follow suit but has reluctantly started to follow the others. It has just started an upward trend. I believe that plastics will be the market to watch in 2022. There is the new government initiative to use more recycled plastic in new products which should raise the prices of quality recycled materials.

Our commodity basket has risen well in 2021.

Let's hope we have no more restrictions put on us by Covid. This is especially important for the hospitality sector, which is a part of our wide customer base make up. We live in uncertain, challenging, exciting times.

We are busy and have an unrelenting urge to keep working, keep improving in 2022 and beyond.

It's a positive start to 2022, full of optimism.

PS it was a great to have a proper old school Christmas lunch and beers together again.