Augean invests in expanding specialist waste capability

Augean plc is an emerging force on the waste management services scene, having been formed in August 2004 "to take advantage of acquisition opportunities in the specialist waste sector". With the initial purchase of Atlantic Waste and Zero Waste, both now rebranded as Augean, and the recent acquisition of Proactive Waste Solutions Ltd, the company has a made brisk start. LAWE Editor Alexander Catto talked to Augean plc's Chief Executive, John Huntington, about the group's performance and ambitions.

Augean plc operates a mix of landfill sites, hazardous waste capacity and waste pre-treatment capability, which includes 10 million m3 of void space, with 8 million m3 at its Port Clarence site, Middlesbrough.

Proactive, based in Cannock in the West Midlands is one of the country’s leading hazardous waste treatment and pre-treatment facilities. The licensed site covers approximately 4,400m2.

John Huntington explained that one reason behind the Proactive Waste acquisition was that the company wanted to extend from hazardous waste and landfill to get involved in treatment and pre-treatment.

When the acquisition was announced on 30 August, he said, “We are now able to supply customers with full hazardous waste solutions.”

Augean already lays claim to being one of the UK’s leading hazardous waste businesses, quoting figures that show that the company has the capacity to handle 749,000 tonnes of hazardous waste per annum out of an estimated 5 million tonnes per annum produced in the UK.

Sites & facilities

The King’s Cliffe site is a wide range permitted hazardous waste landfill site near Peterborough with a licensed capacity of 249,999 tonnes

per annum.

The Thornhaugh non-hazardous landfill site, also near Peterborough and about three miles from the King’s Cliffe site, has a licensed capacity of 200,000 tonnes per annum (non-hazardous).

On the site there are also two constructed, but unlicensed, hazardous waste monocells awaiting the go ahead from the Environment Agency.

The Port Clarence facility is situated in close proximity to Middlesbrough and the wider Teesside conurbations of Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees, close to transport links. The site currently accepts a range of domestic, industrial, commercial and hazardous wastes and is currently one of only two sites in the North East of England with a hazardous waste permit and is the only operational site in the area. Licensed capacity is 500,000 tonnes per annum (hazardous.

Marks Quarry is a former opencast mine, near Houghton-le-Spring, County Durham, with an original landfill capacity of 1.06 million cubic metres. The site currently accepts a range of domestic, industrial and commercial wastes but does not have a hazardous waste permit. Licensed capacity is 200,000 tonnes per annum.

With facilities located in the North and the Midlands, and a new headquarters in Yorkshire, Augean offers a nationwide service. The group CE pointed out that haulage costs do not represent such a major element of costs with hazardous waste as with non-hazardous waste going to landfill.

Augean’s policy on road transport is not to run its own fleet of trucks but to use specialist hauliers.

Discussing the critical shortages of facilities in the South East, he said that the Peterborough site was the nearest hazardous waste site to London and he referred to the difficulty companies faced in opening waste facilities in the South East.

Augean is concentrating on areas outside normal waste fields – in specialist waste

where there is a premium in providing a specialist service.

Development and investment

One interesting possibility that Augean is considering, in order to deal with special waste in the South East, is to transport waste from there by sea to the company’s facility at Port Clarence at Middlesbrough. This would have both economic and environmental benefits.

In June Augean announced a significant plant replacement programme worth a total of £1.6 million. Machinery is being replaced at all four of Augean’s operational sites. Environmental considerations have been a factor in this investment in plant.

There is also planned investment of approximately £1 million at the Cannock plant, which is a stand-alone operation.

John Hartington said that the investment will include new mixing plants that do not involve labour and will put the facilities under a roof. This could double or treble capacity and allow for 24/7 operation.

On landfill equipment he said that the company was opting for Tana for its hazardous waste sites and using Caterpillar plant on non-hazardous waste sites.

He said that Tana compactors produced a “good finish” where Augean had used them elsewhere.

Tana (UK) Ltd, part of the Saville Group,

is supplying two Tana G260 26 tonne landfill compactors to Augean – one for the Port Clarence site and the other for the Kings Cliffe landfill operation.

Other recent orders in the UK for the Finnish based equipment manufacturer include a G500 supplied to Cleanaway at Rainham and two Tana G500s which are going to Waste Recycling Group at Brogborough to replace twoTana G450 machines which have notched up 10,000 over three years during which they have been operating at the company’s site.

Asked about the situation discussed last year by the industry and Environment Minister Elliot Morley where it had been forecast that there would be severe shortage of facilities

to handle hazardous waste, but where no crisis had apparently appeared, Mr Huntington suggested that one reason could be that waste being disposed of was being categorised incorrectly. This could be due to producers of waste failing to understand what constituted hazardous waste.

Interim results

On the company results front, Augean has reported some disappointment in declaring its interim for the six months to June 2005 where turnover was £12 million. Last year the company had anticipated a sharp growth in the hazardous waste business.

Augean plc Chairman, David Williams, said; “tonnage has been lower than anticipated from construction related waste and there has been a delay in the approval of two monocells at our Thornhaugh site.”

He added, however, “We see the volumes of general chemical wastes continuing an upward trend following the disruption caused by the introduction of the EU’s Waste Acceptance Criteria and are striving to increase our market share of construction related wastes.”

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