Covid leads to £52.8 million loss for Biffa

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Biffa chief executive Michael Topham
Biffa chief executive Michael Topham

Waste management company Biffa has recorded a £52.8 million statutory loss for its financial year up to the end of March 2021.

The company saw revenue fall by £121.1 million as a result of the Covid pandemic with its industrial and commercial collections business hit especially hard with 50% of its customers forced to temporarily close their operations.

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However, Biffa said its performance was ahead of recent expectations and that it is well-placed to benefit from the expected economic recovery.

Biffa chief executive Michael Topham said: “I’m extremely proud of the way the entire team responded in what has been a defining year for Biffa.

“We were able to protect our people and continue to provide the essential services on which society depends, while taking decisive action to strengthen the finances of the group and continue to invest for the future. It has been a year none of us want to repeat but certainly one which showed us at our best.

“We are pleased to have been able to end the financial year with results ahead of our expectations. We are strongly positioned for the post-pandemic recovery with leadership positions in our core markets, a well-developed investment programme and exciting growth opportunities ahead, leveraging the group’s unique position at the heart of the circular economy.

“Adding to the progress we made in the year, the recent announcement of our agreement to acquire Viridor’s collections business and certain recycling assets is another significant step for Biffa, further accelerating the delivery of our growth strategy.”

Biffa also revealed that it is close to agreeing to major contracts to supply rPET following deals with Nestlé Waters UK and Alpla.

However, it also said that the Poseidon Project, which is a UK Research and Innovation funded project alongside other partners, to look at a process to chemically recycle harder grades of PET material has been suspended.

In his review, Michael Topham noted: “For hard-to-recycle plastics, chemical recycling has also received growing attention, but the technology and economics are presently unviable. We remain hopeful that more options for the treatment of plastics will become available and we are well placed to leverage them once they do.”

Biffa also revealed that is has bought Scotland’s only plastics recycling facility from Green Circle Polymers for £10 million. This adds an additional 50,000 tonnes of treatment capability.

The company also expected to complete its acquisition of the collections and certain recycling assets of Viridor by August.

Biffa also said that its directors had taken a pay cut, staff pay rises and bonuses had not taken place and other cost saving measures had been implemented to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on its business.

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