Polmont recycling plant will close in May

The �20 million facility has only been open for just over a year

The �20 million facility has only been open for just over a year

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A £20 million state-of-the-art recycling plant in Polmont is to close with the loss of 70 jobs.

Avondale Advanced Waste Treatment Ltd said its material recycling facility (MRF) will shut after only being opened in February last year.

The company announced earlier this month closure was a possibility due to “challenging” market conditions, but today (Friday) confirmed the doors will close at the end of May, with the loss of 70 posts.

Director John Holt said: “Having carefully considered all of the issues and options, we have proposed to close the MRF from May 31, 2013 and have started collective redundancy consultation with employee representatives.

“Right now, our priority is to work with staff throughout the consultation process and to keep our customers fully informed.”

Avondale, which owns a landfill site next to the MRF, charges a gate price to its customers - which include Falkirk Council - to receive and treat municipal, commercial and industrial black bag waste at the MRF.

Materials such as metals and plastics are sorted from the general waste and sold by Avondale as recyclates, but the firm say the market for this type of material has dropped substantially.

Avondale also develop Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) from the remaining waste, which helps avoid the need for landfill. However, there is currently little opportunity to sell this material in the UK and it is cheaper to pay for it to be sent abroad to be burned in energy from waste facilities.

Increased disposal costs and a shortage of RDF users has limited Avondale’s opportunities to export the fuel, contributing to “unsustainable operating losses”, according the company.

Mr Holt added: “While we believe the longer-term opportunities for professionally operated businesses such as ours are positive, increasing operating costs, the reduction in volume and market value of recyclates and rising refuse derived fuel (RDF) disposal prices are having a direct impact on the sustainability of the materials recycling facility (MRF).”

The site is capable of processing 200,000 tonnes of waste a year and Avondale had planned to divert 90 per cent of the waste from its landfill site to the facility by 2015.

Falkirk Council save money on landfill tax and the local authority has said it is looking at the potential implications in terms of both jobs lost and the recycling services.

Councillor Craig Martin, Leader of Falkirk Council, said: “We are naturally concerned by the loss of jobs at Avondale and we will be offering practical assistance with other support agencies.

“We are already exploring alternative ways of dealing with the situation but stress it should not impact on day to day refuse collection or recycling.

“The management has indicated they are keen to work with us, other councils and national bodies to see if there is some solution that can be reached.”

The closure is also a blow for the Scottish Government. Environment Minister Richard Lochhead opened the plant on February 1 last year and said it was an important step to helping Scotland become a ‘Zero Waste’ nation by 2025.