Norse Commercial Services has taken control of operations at all 19 household waste recycling centres in Norfolk in a move that has seen the council turn away from private sector procurements.
Part of the Norse Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Norfolk county council, Norse Commercial Services assumed control of the HWRCs from private firm May Gurney which officially ended its contract in March after operating the sites since 2007.
The deal, worth more than £5million a year excluding the costs of disposal, is part of an agreement between Norse and the council which will see the HWRCs handle a wide range of materials including batteries, WEEE, cardboard, and garden waste.
The recyclables will be sent to the firm’s materials recycling facility (MRF) and composting facility in Marsham.
It follows the council’s decision to award a 10-year contract to Norse for the recycling of dry materials on behalf of the Norfolk Waste Partnership which is set to begin in October 2014.
The seven district and city councils in Norfolk entered into a joint-venture consortium to tender the contract in 2012, in order to increase the amount of recyclable materials at the kerbside and save taxpayers between £368,000 and £800,000.
Despite being a competitive tender, Norse, which had previously held the MRF contract, was selected as preferred bidder as it offered the greatest support for the local economy within procurement rules, lower transport costs, and a glass removal solution to avoid contamination in the other recycling streams.
The deal also involves the six district and one city council situated within the county. Each of the seven contracting authorities will exercise “arm’s-length” control over the legally separate firm and be entitled to 7% of the shares in the company, while any authority that leaves the joint venture will be required to transfer its shares to Norse at zero cost.
The 10-year agreement will see around 110 staff move to Norse under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations.
The company has also created an engineering apprenticeship at the MRF site.
“This new agreement brings the various facilities and processes around the county together,” said David Newell, operations director of Norse Environmental Waste Solutions (NEWS), the subsidiary delivering the contracts.
“It is a great example of a joined-up approach that will help keep Norfolk among the leading recycling counties in the country which, of course, is very good news for local residents and taxpayers.”
The announcement comes as more councils in England turn to wholly-owned, teckal-exempt companies to deliver their waste services and branch out into commercial waste operations.
The procurement model was recently adopted by Cheshire East, which established its own waste management firm for household and commercial waste collections, allowing it to avoid a lengthy bidding process.