Steve Burton and Stewart Brackenbury decided to start Andusia Recovered Fuels after identifying the potential that exporting household and commercial waste could have in February 2012. Both of the founders had worked in the waste-recycling sector for a number of years. “My business partner Stewart Brackenbury had a business recycling cardboard and plastic waste and I was a waste-recycling consultant. We noticed a gap in the market and looked to exploit a brand new sector,” explains Steve Burton, Co Managing Director and Co Founder at Andusia Recovered Fuels. “The idea of exporting waste first came to me when I was talking to a customer with a load of waste, as the business I was working for was unable to dispose of it other than to landfill.”
The 2012 Annual Waste Exhibition gave the pair the opportunity to explore the idea further. The innovative duo got speaking to various logistics providers about the brand new concept to export waste to Combined Heat and Power plants, to be converted into heat and energy. “We got talking to a major Norwegian Energy Plant that had previously done some research into the market, but hadn’t managed to find the waste materials needed. It isn’t as simple as emptying bins,” says Steve. Together they identified a gap in the market to export refuse derived fuel to Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Here in the UK most of the waste simply goes to landfill or recycling plants, but in Northern Europe and Scandinavia it is incinerated and converted into energy. Steve and Stewart decided it was time to start exporting the UK’s household waste.
Since inception the company has grown from strength to strength into the waste industry’s number one independent exporter. In its first year of trading, the company exported 13,000 tonnes of refuse derived fuel, placing it as the UK’s 13th largest exporter. Today the company is the UK’s largest independent exporter to Norway and Sweden and the second largest exporter to Germany. Exporting currently accounts for 100 per cent of the company’s business.
“When we first started Andusia we had no idea how successful it would become. In 2012 the UK shipped 100,000 tonnes of waste. In 2016 exports of waste material from the UK amounted to about 3,500,000 tonnes. As one of the first companies in the sector we consider ourselves to be at the forefront of the growth that is happening across the market today. We are the only waste management business that focuses solely on refuse derived fuels. Our competitors are much bigger, but they also work in other areas, for example household bin emptying and street sweeping,“ explains Steve. “Concentrating on one area puts us ahead of the competition.”
“We never thought that we would receive such high acclaimed attention in such a short space of time,” adds Steve. The company was ranked among Britain’s top small and medium sized businesses by the Sunday Times and Lloyds SME Export Track 100 for fastest-growing international sales in 2016. It secured its place, growing its annual turnover to £17.4 million at an increase of 35 per cent in the last two years. This was the third Sunday Times Award for Audusia Recovered Fuels and the recognition for pioneering; sourcing, specifying and distributing refuse derived fuels doesn’t end there.
Also in 2016 the company won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, an industry first for the waste recycling sector. Steve and Stewart were invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen and other members of The Royal Family. “Gaining credibility in the waste recycling sector is really important to us. The sector gets a lot of bad press in terms of recycling issues and fly tipping. Waste is of course a negative value product and people have to pay to dispose of it. We want to show that there are professional people in the waste sector. We are the first in the sector to win a Queen’s Award, which we believe adds credibility to the whole industry, not just to our company. The experience was a huge positive for us. We have developed strong growth and have shown that we are a profit making company,” says Steve.
What was a first in 2012 has within five years exploded across the waste sector. Today there are a total of 40 companies in the UK exporting waste for refuse derived fuels. Steve predicts that the affects of the competition will result in mass consolidation across the UK export market. “The market will merge over the next five years to 15 to 20 exporters, forming much bigger companies as they pick up more of the contracts. Currently export is 100 per cent of what we do, but I see this side of the business becoming 25 per cent of what we do,” explains Steve. “We are involved in the early stages of incineration projects here in the UK, it won’t be long before the trend catches on.”
Rubbish isn’t seen as a problem anymore, it’s seen as a resource thanks to Audusia Recovered Fuels. “If the export waste industry didn’t exist nobody would have got their heads around refuse derived fuel. We work with regional waste management companies up and down the country. These suppliers collect the waste, take out the heavy materials and leave us with anything that is combustible. What we do has a positive and environmental impact. I think it’s what people should be doing with combustibles,” concludes Steve.
Andusia Recovered Fuels
Services: Collects Refuse Derived Fuels (RDF) from UK waste management companies and delivers it to Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants across Northern Europe and Scandinavia