Radical Waste Group

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Radical Waste Group is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


Highlighting best practice
Julian Knights, owner and
managing director
Our fleet of Mercedes
skip lorries
Julian Knights, owner and managing director of Radical
Waste Group, left a commercial job in London in 2014. He
spotted the opportunity in recycling plastics, and found a
business for sale in East Anglia – B&B Skip Hire in Beccles. After
retraining in transport and waste management, he left his job
as a surveyor, bought the existing business and founded Radical
Waste in 2014, which now employs 20 people.
We are, in short, a company that services everyone from individuals through to
the Rigid Plastics Company (RPC), who have two factories locally. We provide
a complete waste management solution, providing a direct skip service for
general waste and using third-party providers (or partners) where necessary
for hazardous or liquid waste, while covering everything in between ourselves.
Today, we have five skip lorries out on the road, all of which are brand-new 2016
Our waste then returns here, and we recycle it, attempting to get it to the best
place we can with regards to materials. The markets we are specifically interested in
are plastics, paper or cardboard, and metal:
»Plastics are recycled and reprocessed, at a rate of between five-and-a-half and
six-and-a-half tonnes per day.
»Paper and card is exported to China as soon as it is in accordance with
appropriate quality standards, at a rate of approximately 25 tonnes per week.
»Metals are trimmed to an appropriate size before they are distributed or further
processed. We look to process 20 tonnes of heavy steel per week, and ten tonnes
of other metals per month.
»Owner and managing director:
Julian Knights
»Established in 2014
»Acquired B&B Skips in May
»Based in Beccles, Suffolk
»Services: Skip hire, recycling
and waste management
»No. of employees: 20
»Aiming to be a market
leader in plastic recovery and
Radical Waste Group
Our processes are sustainable and
all-encompassing, and, in keeping
with this, we have recently ordered a
new machine from China which can
reprocess HDPE and PP plastics at a
rate of one tonne per hour. Our aim
is to remove the mixed-rigid plastics
that are entering the waste stream, by
sorting and reprocessing the material.
By October, we anticipate this machine
will be functional and working on-site
in Beccles to contribute to our ethos of
environmental responsibility.
Vision and culture
We’ve recently been focusing on
redefining our company ethos
statements, and our values are now
simply formed around being the best we
possibly can be. I personally want to try
to drive change in the market without
relying on environmental legislation or
parliament, and hope we can become
a voice on the ground driving an
operational paradigm shift. Really, we
want to change things – and though
getting everyone on the same page
is no easy feat, recognising a gradual
process of improvement is helpful.
Alongside that, we do recognise that
waste disposal has historically been a
difficult and unfriendly affair. I myself
have a young family – and I, for
instance, want my wife and children to
be comfortable when a lorry turns up
on the driveway. In driving loyalty from
our workforce, we hope to inspire a
considerate, appropriate and polite
manner in everyone working under
the Radical Waste brand. Building
a winning team helps us to be the
best we can be – I’m an ambitious
person, and I want my team to follow
suit when it comes to changing the
perception and impact of our industry.
Domestic issues
Locally we have found the main
challenges to be employment and
recruitment. Currently, we have access
to a wide, sensible labour force and
agency workers. If this access starts to
diminish, the market and industry will
suffer locally, and without the broad
pool of prospective employees we
might normally find, there’s a concern
that future potential employees
may not be productive or motivated
enough. Finding the right people to
work for us is always hard.
Waste disposal routes are an additional,
significant concern. Ournearest landfill
is in Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, We have a strong
focus on environmental
We are aiming for end-
of-line waste processing
at our facility
Our processes
are sustainable
and all-
Highlighting best practice
Suffolk, which is 50 miles away. That’s
a 100-mile round trip, and with the
inflating costs of fuel, labour and
landfill tax, a trip there is by no means
cheap. We’re just a service provider,
and we do try to be as efficient as we
can be, so as waste disposal routes are
starting to be withdrawn, things are
becoming increasingly more difficult.
In Norfolk, there’s no landfill or
incinerator facility for end-of-line waste,
and in Suffolk, there’s one incinerator
which is always full of domestic waste
from the localarea.
Concerns with Europe and
With trade tariffs, we’ll naturally start
to see prices and inflation increase.
For now, we just want to get on
with Brexit and make the best of it.
A weaker pound does work well for
export in some respects, and we could
see positive effects for any industries
that rely on that, our company
Looking outside Europe, we are seeing
concerns from China. Their constantly
increasing quality requirements
mean that we have to spend a lot of
time removing imperfections on our
end, which is costly, and then we
ultimately see products going back to
landfill if there’s no market. It would
be useful to have further support
from the government – I know that
a lot of my competitors would avoid
sustainable processes if they’re not
When it comes to exporting
construction film, for example, that’s
sold on at a negative value after
separation and baling. There’s a
benefit environmentally, of course, but
not commercially. A better framework
and more support to strike a middle
ground between financial success
and improving sustainability would
Driving further innovation
Ever since I took over, we’ve identified
areas to drive further improvement
and innovation. Routes of disposal
prove to be challenging, so that’s
something we’re focusing on, and
we’re also looking at alternatives
for localised power generation. We
want to become a self-sustainable
site, providing power and heat to our
processes while also recovering and
recycling materials in a better way. If it
can’t be recycled, I want to be able to
look at turning it into power.
Commercially, I naturally want to grow
the company. I’d like to look further
into plastics and paper, I’d like to see
our site become a market-leading,
self-sustainable waste disposal and
commodity recovery facility, and I
want to ensure that anything that’s
end-of-line – be it an aggregate or
a reprocessed, value-added material
– comes here if possible. There’s a
potentially bright future on the horizon
– I want it to be realised, and I want to
be able to contribute to a sustainable
and responsible environment for the
decades to come.
I’d like to see
our site
become a
leading, self-
waste disposal
Sales and senior
management team


This article was sponsored by Radical Waste Group. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.