Attracting investment to sustainable waste management

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Like any business, waste management needs investment in order to grow and offer value to shareholders. The industry has its own unique investment opportunities and its own risks. However, it’s true to say that as long as UK industry shows growth, there will always be corresponding growth in the waste management sector.

Any investment in everyday waste management activities is welcome, and there’s a growth in sustainable technologies that offers the potential of good returns.

While new projects such as energy recovery plants and biomass generation require large initial costs in terms of land acquisition and construction, they offer a long term return in sales of energy back to the national grid along with gate fees from third party companies.

Energy recovery has ballooned in recent years as landfill capacity becomes increasingly strained, and it becomes more difficult to dispose of waste material for which there is no sustainable recycling or re-use process. The act of burning unrecyclable was is less environmentally friendly than other options, but it offers a swift return once a plant is operational and generating electricity.

It’s not without risks, though. Energy recovery plants are unpopular with local residents, so they are subject to stricter environmental controls, which may involve CO2 capture technology that will add to start-up costs.

Biomass is also emerging as an investment opportunity in the waste management industry. It breaks down organic waste to produce methane gas, which can then be burned to generate electricity. Investment here comes in varying scales. A site could be small – almost “farm-sized”, or on a size that deals with waste from a municipality.

Either way, the technology is proven. Risks involve – once again – opposition from local people, and the need for CO2 capture for the waste gasses. However, as a scalable investment, there are returns for any size of company.

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