MRF gate fees continue to rise

The median gate fee paid by local authorities to send materials collected through the kerbside recycling system to materials recovery facilities (MRFs) has increased by 47 per cent, according the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

WRAP has revealed the figures in the 11th edition of its Gate Fees Report, which compares the costs of alternative waste treatment options for 2017/18. Examining gate fees across a range of treatment options, the report shows that the median gate fee paid by local authorities to send materials to MRFs increased from £15 per tonne in 2016/17 to £22 per tonne for the following year – an increase of 47 per cent.MRF gate fees continue to rise

The range of fees paid by local authorities for MRF services was significantly wide, with most local authorities paying between £0 and £5 per tonne, while some councils report negative fees (whereby MRFs pay to receive materials from local authorities rather than the other way around) of up to £37 per tonne of material and others report paying up to £95 per tonne. The median gate fee for contracts signed in 2017 was £35 per tonne, compared to last year’s £29 per tonne, evidence of a continued upward trend in MRF gate fees over the past few years from a paltry £6 per tonne in 2015.

For 2017, 16 per cent of local authorities report not having to pay a gate fee for a MRF, a reduction from previous years with 21 per cent paying no gate fee in 2016 and 28 per cent in 2015. With regard to the different nations of the United Kingdom, the median gate fee for England was £13, for Wales it was £51 and for Northern Ireland it was £42.

An interactive infographic is available to view on the WRAP website to allow users to quickly find gate fees and recent trends for the specific end treatments they are interested in.

The five large waste contractors and single dedicated MRF operator interviewed for WRAP’s survey attributed the continued rise in MRF gate fees to the impact of the Chinese ban on waste imports, which has affected commodity price movements and pushed MRF fees up. Those interviewed report that the median gate for Q4 of 2017 and Q1 of 2018 stands at around £35 per tonne, significantly higher than the reported figure for 2017.

Alternative treatments

Turning to organic waste treatment options, the median gate fee for in-vessel composting (IVC), both for mixed organics and green or food waste presented separately, was £46 per tonne for 2017, a slight increase of £3 from last year’s reported gate fee.

That slight upward trend is not reflected in the gate fee for materials sent to anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities, which continues its downward trend of recent years, falling to £26 per tonne from £29 per tonne.

The fall in median commercial gate fees is not reflected in the commercial contract and spot median fees paid by local authorities engaged in contracts with MRF operators that were signed a few years ago with fixed fees, which stand at £11 and £15 per tonne respectively.

Gate fees for waste sent to energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities for energy recovery have increased slightly, with the median rising to £86 per tonne for 2017, compared to £83 per tonne last year.  For pre-2000 EfW facilities, the median gate fee is £57 per tonne for 2017, compared to £56 per tonne last year. For post-2000 facilities, median gate fee is £89 per tonne, compared to £91 per tonne last year.

WRAP’s survey usually covers prices for waste wood, but these have not been included this year due to price stabilisation over the past few years.

Landfill gate fees have seen a slight decrease to £20 per tonne (exclusive of landfill tax) following 2016’s slight increase from £19 per tonne to £22 per tonne. The range in gate fees paid across the UK is wide, however, with local authorities paying between £2 and £82 per tonne. This is reflective of the regional variations in availability of landfill capacity, as well as the availability of alternative options such as EfW or ports for the export of refuse derived fuel (RDF). Both local authorities and waste contractors expect landfill gate fees to continue to rise as landfill capacity gradually decreases.

You can view WRAP’s Gate Fees Report 2018 on the WRAP website.