Fred Bell, JCB’s business manager for the waste and recycling industries, looks ahead to 2016 to see what he thinks the waste and recycling sector can expect.
Greater emphasis on the environment
I don’t have the benefit of a crystal ball, but it seems clear to me that 2016 promises to be very important for the future of our environment and therefore for our sector. We are finally seeing growing acceptance of the importance of resource management and caring for our planet. The recent Paris agreement set a new goal to reach net zero emissions in the second half of the century. This means that the transition away from fossil fuels and to a clean energy economy needs to start happening fast.
Former US vice-president, Al Gore, said: “This universal and ambitious agreement sends a clear signal to governments, businesses, and investors everywhere. The transformation of our global economy from one fuelled by dirty energy to one fuelled by sustainable economic growth is now firmly and inevitably underway.”
The waste and recycling sector will have an increasingly important role to play in our transition to a sustainable circular economy and with the European Commission’s newly proposed measures, our industry is likely to be under increasing focus throughout the year. The proposals include a municipal waste recycling target of 65% by 2030 and a restriction on the amount of municipal waste sent to landfill of no more than 10% of arisings by 2030. The sector is expanding and this should bring economic and environmental benefits to the country by making the most of our existing resources and reducing the requirements for new ones.
As well as needing to develop plans following the Paris agreement, the impact of extreme weather is also concentrating the minds of our politicians.
I do feel safe predicting that technology is going to play a key part in the year ahead. Constant advancements mean there are always opportunities to develop and improve machines and processes. I don’t think we’ll see robots running recycling centres just yet, but advances in artificial intelligence, automation and virtual reality are all likely to have an impact on the industry before too long. We already have telematics systems which allow remote monitoring of fleets. This is a good example of how technology can be integrated into waste and recycling site operations to maximise efficiencies and minimise downtimes.
Engine technology will continue to be a major focus for many waste and recycling machine manufacturers in 2016. The introduction of Stage IV/Tier 4 Final – the engine emissions regulations which apply to off-highway machines – has been driving engine development for a number of years. These regulations aim to reduce the hazardous exhaust emissions of new vehicles sold in the EU and North America. Stage IV/Tier 4 Final standards introduced a very stringent Nitrous Oxide (NOx) limit of 0.4 g/kWh, which has triggered the widespread use of NOx after-treatment (typically urea-based Selective Catalytic Reduction) on affected categories of engines. Most JCB machines are now Stage IV/Tier 4 Final compliant and our approach to meeting the massive challenge of Tier 4 emissions legislation was to look upon it as an opportunity for innovation.
The new JCB EcoMax Stage IV/Tier 4 Final engine range requires no Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) to meet the latest standards. This offers real advantages for our customers, with no DPF components to maintain and service, leading to reduced operating costs. In addition, no bulky DPF components mean a smaller engine package, hence a more effective machine design.
Engine standards won’t end with Stage IV/Tier 4, at least not in the EU. Proposed Stage V emission limits for engines in off-road mobile machinery are being developed for introduction in 2019. These standards are applicable to diesel engines from 0 to 56 kW and to all types of engines above 56 kW. This means that in 2016, manufacturers will once again be looking for ways to improve engine performance and to reduce emissions in preparation for even more stretching targets.
Machine manufacturers, like JCB, are always looking to innovate to meet the changing requirements of their customers, whether that’s around engine performance or operator comfort and safety, and they’ll be looking for new technology to help make this happen.
The human touch
When it comes to making big decisions, like purchasing new waste and recycling machines, a bit of human interaction with a dealer has always been vital. I don’t expect that to change this year, or anytime soon. After all, a site survey is an integral part of assessing the best machinery for the job, and it’s hard to see how that could carried out on Facebook or LinkedIn. It is imperative for customers to know that the dealer understands all of their individual requirements and can make the right recommendations.
The big picture
We live in an increasingly connected world and global events have a big impact on our industry and individual businesses. Although he or she won’t come into power until 2017, this year will see the election of a new US President and the impacts of that election result are likely to be far-reaching. Whoever ends up becoming the ‘leader of the free world’ it’s fair to say we’ll all be looking to see how their plans and policies will affect us.
A year of opportunity
Although the economic outlook is still uncertain, 2016 undoubtedly offers some great opportunities for those of us involved in recycling and resource management. With environmental issues having never had a higher profile and with recycling rates on the up across the country, this should be a very exciting year.