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Highlander International EUWID Interview

Stephen Duffy, Director of Highlander International, is a regular contributor to EUWID Pulp and Paper magazine, regularly giving information about the recovered paper markets in Scotland and Ireland.

This was in response to Highlander’s recent announced expansion plans within the Scottish market where we aim to be the No.1 paper recycling company in central Scotland. The interview questions and answers are as below:

This was in response to Highlander’s recent announced expansion plans within the Scottish market where we aim to be the No.1 paper recycling company in central Scotland. The interview questions and answers are as below:

1. What are the reasons for expanding?

As you know nothing stays the same forever, especially in business! We started the company in 2002 originally offering export solutions for recovered plastic which had seen a boom in recovery levels, but not the same boom in UK processor capacity levels. We progressed onto paper in 2004 (which is our original background of expertise) however all recovered materials export markets have changed over the last 3-4 years where the attitude of the late 1990s / early 2000s has been replaced with a more regulative and orderly situation, this has been very advantageous to trading companies with scale and / or their own mill capacities (In Europe or the Far East), however this changing landscape has worked against the smaller independent recovered materials traders who are increasingly finding it very difficult to compete with the big boys. As a result, our strategy change has been a process of evolution, from the need to continue to survive and thrive in the paper recycling industry. We feel it is very important to continuously find niche markets within an ever globalised marketplace, areas the big companies don’t particularly want to get involved in, and we are confident we have managed to do that again by opening up our modern paper recycling facility near Glasgow. 2. Which measure exactly are planned? Can you also give an information on the time schedule and the investment sum?

The plan is to be a truly independent, professional paper recycling company servicing central Scotland, at present the landscape is dominated by large multi-national, mill owned companies and we have identified not only a gap, but a need in the market for a stand-alone company to offer an alternative, we can offer a level of personal service and flexibility that the larger operators may not be able to provide as traditionally the service offerings and procedures of the bigger companies can be quite rigid and inflexible by their nature. For example, it is common for many customers to become frustrated at the disjointed contact structures some large waste companies employ where you have to deal with different locations for different requirements such as commercial enquiries, accounts and service, at Highlander you have the one place and point of contact for all your enquiries and while this may be a little inefficient, we believe our personal, consistent approach in this area will make all the difference. The time schedule is to have everything in place and up to capacity by the end of 2015 hopefully and the total investment is over £500,000

3. What impact will these measures have on your processing and transport capacities as well as the headcount?

We have already purchased a building, 2 balers, a large shredder, 1 industrial reel splitter and 4 Tele-trucks to give us a processing capacity of circa 1000 tons per week. We now plan to purchase some collection infrastructure including containers and trucks we have already taken on 2 sales staff and now have a total of 20 staff – this is an increase from just 6 last year. 4.How much paper per year does Highlander International Recycling process and how much is traded in brokerage at the moment? Is it your goal to increase the volumes of paper you process yourself and lower the material sourced in MRFs?

We currently recycle 20,000 tons per year through our depot and trade a further 100,000 tons per year through our brokering arm. Our goal is to increase the volumes through our depot to 25,000 tons per year by the end of 2015 and have them at 30,000 tons per annum by the end of 2016. Naturally we wish to at least maintain the trading volumes as they are however with recent mill activity in the UK, there could be new broker opportunities in certain sectors over the next 12 months which we would look to explore

5. Do you still also deal with plastics recycling?

Yes we do but on a very small scale and usually as a supplementary service to our local customers who ask us to collect their plastics at the same time we collect their paper / cardboard. We do not envisage plastic playing a major part in our growth strategy over the next 2 years however are willing to look at any opportunities as they arise!

6. I have heard that paper from MRFs is of lesser quality. Do you think this is true / how do you handle the problem to ensure high quality paper?

I 100% think this is true and the only real way to eliminate this problem is to collect paper separately at source. I am a traditionalist in this sense and started in waste paper at a time where mixing materials was anethma! Now it seems to be the accepted norm in both commercial and domestic recycling and I am quite sad about this. I do believe however that as the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, that recycling culture will slowly start to change back to old values and source separation to some extent will start to become fashionable again. At the very least we need to reduce the number of materials within multi-material collection containers and NOT increase them I can’t believe some councils allow such a wide range of materials in bins such as glass, batteries, small WEEE et al along with paper – the old saying you can’t make a silk purse from a sows ear is analogous in this respect!

7. Are there any more things you would like to add or point out?

No I think we have covered everything, thanks for the opportunity!

Thanks for taking the time to read this article and we hope to be of service to you in the near future! If you require any further information please feel free to contact a member of the team at 0044 (0) 1355 524 215.

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