Aylesford Newsprint Closure Will Have “Significant Impact” On UK Recycling

Reacting to last week’s shock news that Aylesford Newsprint Ltd has gone into administration (See CIWM Journal Online story), concerns have been raised that a national trend could be occurring.

The Kent Resource Partnership (KRP) Members Board has said it is very concerned a national trend may be developing, where recycling businesses are facing such intense pressures that they either diminish operations or cease to continue.

Aylesford Newsprint has been a well-established Kent business for many decades. The company was a major employer and the impacts on the local economy are significant.

Several Kent councils had deliveries of paper to Aylesford Newsprint. Impacted councils are currently implementing urgent arrangements to ensure paper collected from Kent households continues to be recycled.

Aylesford Newsprint blamed “challenging operating conditions” for the closure, including overcapacity in the newsprint market, coupled with the rise of digital media.

Ray Georgson, The Resource Association – “Self-evidently, the closure of the mill will have a significant impact on UK recycling in both the short and longer term”

It supplied newsprint to some of the main newspaper groups, employed nearly 300 people and recorded a turnover of £139m in 2013. 233 jobs have been lost as a result of it going into administration.

The KRP Members Board said: “Several materials recycled across the UK appear to have been impacted recently, including the four prescribed in EU and national legislation – paper, plastic, glass and metal.

“Whilst there seems to be a wide range of pressures on each material stream, which need to be better understood, the common goal must surely be to ensure that recyclates collected by councils have outlets to be recycled.

“Without a thriving UK recycling industry, the KRP believes local economic growth and jobs may be at risk, especially in communities across the country hosting major recycling facilities such as those at Aylesford.

“In addition, achieving the national recycling target of 50% by 2020 would seem to be more within reach with a thriving UK recycling industry than would otherwise be the case.”

The KRP recommends the new Government after 7 May 2015 receives urgent advice and guidance on the reasons for current industry pressures across all recycled materials, what it may need to do to strengthen the resilience of the UK recycling industry, and actions to ensure local economies where major facilities are located are supported.

Moreover, the KRP believes the growth and jobs benefits highlighted in the recent WRAP and Green Alliance report titled ‘Employment and the Circular Economy’ may be harder to achieve if the UK is passive in managing current challenges to the recycling industry.

The Resource Association’s chief executive, Ray Georgson, said: “We wish to express our sadness at the news of the closure of the Aylesford newsprint mill and we offer our thoughts to all our friends at Aylesford Newsprint who have lost their jobs, many of whom we have been proud to work with for many years.

“Self-evidently, the closure of the mill will have a significant impact on UK recycling in both the short and longer term.”

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