Green waste contract blow for local venture

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A SHEFFIELD social enterprise has lost the job of recycling the city’s green waste - prompting concerns that small, local businesses are missing out in the awarding of recycling contracts.

Green Estate, a non-profit making venture based in Manor Lane, has been collecting grass and privet cuttings and branches from gardens and parks for five years, turning them into compost for gardens and landscaping.

Now it has lost out to in the latest tendering process.

A spokesperson for Veolia Environmental Services, which oversees recycling on behalf of the council, said: “The green waste disposal contract, as with all similar contracts, is re-tendered every five years. All the tenders that were received were evaluated against a pre-determined scoring matrix. On this occasion Green Estates were unfortunately unsuccessful and the contract was awarded to another company.”

The decision is a blow to Green Estate, which combines commercial activities with projects to help tackle social, economic and environmental issues.

“It was certainly a disappointment,” said chief executive Sue France. “It doesn’t bode well for small niche businesses in winning contracts.”

There are not thought to be any implications for jobs.

The award of the contract was criticised by Sheffield Green Party, which is pressing the council and Veolia to ensure that recycling stays as local as possible so that recycled material is not taken on long road journeys and to help keep profits and jobs within the local economy.

The Greens fear that contracts are going to big firms, which can handle much larger volumes.

Coun Jillian Creasy said: “If there is any silver lining to fortnightly black bin collections, it is that recycling rates should improve. But this will only happen if recycling services are expanded and well run. We want the council to be much more pro-active in getting local businesses involved in collecting and processing recyclable materials. As resources become scarcer, the value of materials is rising and we want the income and jobs to stay in the city, not be siphoned off into the profits of multinational companies like Veolia. It doesn’t make sense for green waste to be transported for processing in Rotherham or for plastics, bottles and cans to be trucked to Pontefract when they could be handled by non-profit making social enterprises here in the city. Similarly, the recycling centres could offer a much more comprehensive service to householders and businesses if there was better dialogue between the council and the front line workers who understand the potential.”

Meanwhile, Green Estate will recycle some green waste, such as from landscapers and commercial operators, at Manor Lane and an operation off Station Road, Ecclesfield, due to open before the end of the year.