Gate Fees Report 2017: comparing the costs of waste treatment options

13th July 2017

This report analyses the gate fees charged for a range of waste treatment, recovery and disposal options as reported by local authorities.

Key findings
The median MRF gate fee is £15/tonne compared to £25/tonne last year
Commodity prices have impacted on MRF gate fees
MRF gate fees are expected to continue to fluctuate year on year
Open air windrow was not included in the survey, due the stability of this market over a number of years
Residual waste treatment processes, such as the manufacture of a refuse derived fuel (RDF), were included this year

This report contains the findings of WRAP’s tenth annual gate fees survey, for the calendar year 2016. It summarises the gate fees charged to local authorities for a range of waste treatment, recovery and disposal options. Some commercial gate fees are also reported, which have been provided by organic and wood waste treatment facility operators.  The report also looks at the factors likely to influence future gate fees and includes comparisons to the previous year’s results.

The aim of the gate fees survey is to increase price transparency and, by improving the flow of information, improve efficiency in the waste management market. A lack of market information can reduce a local authority’s ability to make informed decisions on waste management options. Therefore, the publication of indicative gate fee information, such as that contained within this report, should assist local authorities in making better informed decisions regarding waste management options. The year-on-year changes in gate fees are also valuable in informing the changes in the state of the market for different ways of managing waste.

Executive summary 

Summary gate fee data reported by local authorities from 2016 for a range of technology types are presented in Table 1. This year the survey coverage has changed slightly in that:

  • Open air windrow was not included in the survey, due the stability of this market over a number of years;
  • Residual waste treatment processes, such as the manufacture of a refuse derived fuel (RDF), were included this year.

Read the full executive summary

Introduction

This report contains the findings of WRAP’s tenth annual gate fees survey. It summarises the gate fees charged to local authorities for a range of waste treatment, recovery and disposal options. Some commercial gate fees are also reported, which have been provided by organic and wood waste treatment facility operators.  The report also looks at the factors likely to influence future gate fees and includes comparisons to the previous year’s results.

The aim of the gate fees survey is to increase price transparency and, by improving the flow of information, improve efficiency in the waste management market. A lack of market information can reduce a local authority’s ability to make informed decisions on waste management options. Therefore, the publication of indicative gate fee information, such as that contained within this report, should assist local authorities in making better informed decisions regarding waste management options. The year-on-year changes in gate fees are also valuable in informing the changes in the state of the market for different ways of managing waste.

The objectives of this year’s survey were as follows:

  • To capture the variation in gate fees by treatment/disposal option, by surveying local authorities that procure waste disposal services and service providers including Waste Management Companies (WMCs), operators of organic treatment facilities, and wood waste recyclers;
  • To encompass a broad regional distribution of gate fees for facilities across England (including London as a separate region, and where possible, to carry out analysis on a regional basis within England), Wales and Northern Ireland; 
  • To refocus the scope of this year’s survey by including a variety of residual waste treatments; and
  • To assess market trends via a comparison of gate fees over time.

This report presents a review of gate fees for a range of options for the treatment and disposal of waste, together with a forward looking analysis of the factors likely to influence future gate fees.

Approach and scope

This survey compiles information regarding gate fees charged in 2016 for a variety of waste management services. The geographic scope covers the whole of the UK with the sub regional data by English region where sample size allows.

Requests for gate fee information were issued to local authorities, including all Unitary Authorities, Waste Disposal Authorities (WDAs), and Waste Collection Authorities (WCAs) within the UK. The waste management services included in the local authority survey questionnaire were:

  • Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF);
  • In-Vessel Composting (IVC);
  • Anaerobic Digestion (AD);
  • Energy from Waste (EfW);
  • Non-hazardous landfill; 
  • Other residual waste treatment including Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) and Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) manufacture; and
  • Wood waste recycling and recovery.  

This differs from last year’s survey (and other previous surveys) as Open Air Windrow (OAW) composting was excluded (due to the apparent stabilisation of the market).  Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facilities were included within a new category entitled ‘Other residual waste treatment’, which was designed to incorporate the broader range of treatments, namely those which produce a Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) output, to better understand the local authority residual waste market.  

Changes were also made with regard to how the gate fee data for wood waste recycling and recovery were collected, with less focus on the grade of wood, and more emphasis placed on the output, especially that being used as a wood waste and/or biomass fuel.  

Separate requests for information were also distributed to waste management operators in the following sectors:

  • In-Vessel Composting;
  • Anaerobic Digestion; and
  • Wood waste recycling and recovery.

Organic waste treatment facilities accepting wastes supplied from commercial and industrial sources and/or municipal sources were also surveyed but in line with the local authority survey, OAW facility operators were not included.  Again, this was because the OAW market is seen as mature and static, and gate fees reported in previous surveys have not varied significantly for a number of years. 

In addition to the above, telephone or face-to-face interviews were held with representatives of major waste management companies. These interviews were flexible in their scope, in that they addressed all major waste service types offered by the company in question.

Survey response rates

A summary of response rates by authority type and the gate fee data by facility type that have been secured by this year’s survey are shown in this section.

Jump to full section

Recommendations for future surveys

This year the selection of waste management services and gate fee types has been refined to better reflect parts of the sector that are changing, as opposed to those that are mature and for which median gate fees have not changed in a number of years. This should be reviewed before each new survey. It should be noted in this review that changes in one sub-sector can impact other sub-sectors e.g. potential overcapacity in AD capacity impacting on IVC gate fees, impact of RDF export prices on landfill and EfW gate fees, so this should be taken into account when this selection of target sub-sectors is made.

Even though there was some condensing of the questionnaire this year to make its completion less of a task, this should continue to be reviewed each year. For example, the emphasis on collecting commercial waste gate fees, in addition to municipal gate fees, has increased in recent years.  Therefore these surveys need to review to ensure they capture the data required, but are also streamlined to maximise responses, as these surveys are currently quite long.  For example, this year, average, minimum and maximum gate fees were asked for a range of waste feedstock types.  These should be streamlined.  

This review should also look at response rates from previous years for individual sections of the questionnaire, and make a realistic assessment of which sections are unlikely to get adequate responses, either because of potential confidentiality issues or the easy of obtaining the data required, and judgements made as to whether to continue to include or not.