A family-owned firm employing 100 people from its recycling facility on the outskirts of Edinburgh has been sold to waste management giant Biffa for an undisclosed sum.

One of the leading independent providers of resource management services in Scotland, Hamilton Waste & Recycling (HWR) processes more than 135,000 tonnes of material annually on behalf of construction groups, restaurants and local authorities. Its processing and recycling business includes wood and plasterboard, and diverts more than 65,000 mattresses away from landfill every year.

Owned by US investment group Energy Capital Partners, which in September agreed to a $1 billion takeover by private equity giant Bridgepoint, Biffa is one of the UK's biggest waste management companies by revenue. The group had a 10-year contract to collect and process bottles and cans under Scotland's failed deposit return scheme (DRS) on behalf of Circularity Scotland, which collapsed into administration in June.

The Herald: The HWR processing facility at SmeatonThe HWR processing facility at Smeaton (Image: HWR)

The HWR acquisition will expand Biffa's capabilities in the construction and demolition sector, where it already has dedicated facilities in Newcastle, Birmingham and Cardiff. Two quarry restoration sites in Edinburgh and Glasgow do not form part of the acquisition and will remain under the direct control of the Hamilton family.

"We are delighted to welcome the Hamilton team and customers to the Biffa Group," Biffa chief operating officer Maxine Mayhew said. “Biffa is the largest collector of waste and recycling in the UK and the addition of HWR’s award-winning capability in the construction and demolition sector will further strengthen our services in this important market.

“HWR’s sustainability credentials are impressive, and we look forward to working together to leverage Biffa’s unique position at the heart of the circular economy, enabling more customers to meet their carbon reduction commitments.”

In 2021 HWR became Scotland’s first waste management company to achieve 100% carbon-neutral status. It diverts more than 95% of incoming waste from landfill and has invested more than £10 million at its recycling centre at Smeaton.

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Biffa is acquiring the entire share capital and will welcome the 100 strong team at HWR into its collections business, along with 49 vehicles and 1,400 new customers.

“We are delighted to have completed the sale of the business and I look forward to working with Biffa as HWR starts this exciting new chapter," HWR managing director Robin Stevenson said.

“Our customers will continue to be serviced under the HWR brand, by the same team who are committed to providing the most sustainable service possible, while also being able to draw on Biffa’s extensive pool of resources and expertise.” 

HWR was incorporated in 2002 when the Hamilton family acquired the long-established firm of Wm Finlayson & Sons. The business made a pre-tax profit of £1.4m on turnover of £17.8m during the year to November 2022, according to latest accounts filed with Companies House.