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Leaked Emails Prove Veolia Diverting Recycing Waste To incinerator

Monday, July 17, 2017


Steel City residents are being misled as to where their recycling is going – and that’s a scandal says union.

GMB has been shown an email [1] revealing Veolia bosses are diverting recycling to their incinerator as Sheffield’s recycling rate plummets.

The city’s waste management contractor appears to have made the decision in 2011 to divert recyclable waste from the household waste recycle centres to their own Energy From Waste (EFR) incinerator.

Veolia’s contract with Sheffield City Council, as well as Environment Agency regulations, demands the company performs as much recycling as can be reasonably achieved.

The incinerator has previously struggled to get fuel to provide the company’s commitment to provide district heating for the city. [2]

GMB members working at Veolia’s recycling plant receive a bonus payment if they meet their recycling targets – something they have struggled to do in recent years due to the lack of provision of recyclable waste.

It now looks as if this is nothing to do with a lack of residents’ recycling – but a deliberate policy from Veolia.

Despite various information and data requests, GMB has not received adequate waste flow information from Sheffield City Council or Veolia.

Following the leaked email, GMB has written an open letter to Veolia. [3]

Lee Parkinson, GMB Organiser, said:

“We accept we have to burn waste in the incinerator, indeed it’s our own members who work on that operation and it’s a good model for the city.

“But these increasing diversions are coming from the household recycle sites and that is always going have a negative impact on recycling in Sheffield."

Peter Davies, Senior Organiser, added:

“We have long said this contract is in a mess and this latest leak makes our members task of increasing those recycle rates look almost impossible.

“The people of Sheffield need to know when they bring their waste it is recycled in the main - not deliberately diverted and burned to boost Veolia’s profits.

“Veolia appear to be burning things that could be recycled – adding to pollution and avoiding paying our members any bonus at the same time.

“We call on Sheffield City Council to be transparent about the recycling requirements in the contract with Veolia.

“This isn’t just the waste that’s going up in smoke, it’s our members’ pay with it and we will now challenge that.

“The good people of Sheffield and our own members who carry out their recycling have no real control over recycling in this city and that is a scandal.

“Veolia and the Council need to sort this obvious conflict of interest out and sort it now.”


Contact: GMB press office on 07958 156846 or at

Notes to editors:

[1] Contents of leaked email from John Gummerson (Veolia Commercial manager) to Chris Bagley (Veolia HWRC Manager) Subject: HWRC historical data


“The HWRC wasteflow data for each site from 2011 is attached.

“The graphs demonstrate that increasing ERF diversion tonnes every year for each site contributed directly to the year on year reduction to the recycling rate.


“John Gummerson, Commercial Manager, United Kingdom.”


[3] GMB open letter to Veolia

We are writing to you as we believe this affects both sides of the Veolia business in Sheffield. This is part of our dispute with the company and as you will read, affects both sides of the business because of the complexities of the Sheffield City Council Waste Management and HWRC contracts.

As you are aware, the GMB have, for some considerable time, been trying to get hold of accurate information about the recycling and waste flow data relating to each HWRC site in Sheffield so that we can ascertain the potential bonus that should have been paid to our members working on that operation.

On all occasions you have failed to provide us with that information. We are now aware that Veolia have sent the waste flow data relating to all sites since 2011 to Green Co., the former contractor on the sites up to December 2016. This data and information was sent by John Gummerson (Veolia Commercial Manager) on February 15th 2017.

That internal email was meant to go to Chris Baggley, formally a Green Co manager but now transferred to Veolia, but was sent to Chris's old email address at The Green Co., in error.

The Green Co. Director responded on the same day confirming that she had received this information and John Gummerson responded on February 16th to ask her to delete it immediately as it was sent in error. The real worrying part of this email exchange for us is that not only did the Green Co. Director refuse; she also confirmed that it was 'far too late for that' and that 'the information was already read, already downloaded and already being assessed by accountants and lawyers'.

In the first email that was sent on the 15th John Gummerson clearly confirms that the graphs demonstrate that increasing ERF diversion tonnes every year for each site contributed directly to the year on year REDUCTION in the recycling rate. This is obviously a major concern to us and not information that we have previously been provided with and given that both the Council and Veolia have pointed the finger at each other to provide the data and given that it appears that the Green Co. Director herself is somewhat shocked by what she has now got.

I request that you forward to me, by return, the attachments that you have sent out and that the emails themselves relate to from February 15th to 17th 2017; that being HWRC waste flow data for each site from 2011 (the attachments mentioned in that email).

Diverting waste to the ERF may well be needed to keep the ERF operation going but it is obviously of interest to the public as well as our members on the HWRC operation. The public and the Environment agency expect the Council to do all that it can to increase recycling rates in the City, our members on the HWRC sites are tasked to do exactly that and their bonus is geared up to achieve that.

Neither objective will ever be met whilst you hide the truth and use this HWRC service to meet with your own business objectives at the incinerator above all others.

That is of concern to us and the public alike and we await your response but will set our position out accordingly to both our GMB members and the public.

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