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A seven-year partnership helps a recycling champion achieve its goals
When the power stations of Yorkshire were privatised in the mid-nineties, Vikki Jackson-Smith’s family-run solid fuel business saw a decline in demand.
The stations were now importing their own coal, presenting the company with a serious challenge. Spotting an opportunity in new government-legislated recycling targets, Vikki pivoted the business to recycling, starting with glass bottle collections.
Each year the company recycles 12,000 tonnes of plastic bottles, 21,000 tonnes of glass bottles and 36,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard.
After an introduction by BGF, the firm appointed Ross Smith, ex-chief executive of MDC Technology, as non-executive chairman.BGF Talent Network
From cardboard to tin cans
“We needed to find a new direction that would use our current infrastructure and skills of the workforce,” she explains. “Due to the new landfill tax, escalator companies’ waste disposal costs were increasing, so we started offering a solution to reduce the charges they were facing by collecting their glass. This later put us in a strong position to offer a service to local authorities too and help them meet household recycling targets.”
The company rebranded as J&B Recycling and soon moved on from bottles to a full suite of recycling capabilities. The firm invested in an automated sorting plant to process the mixed recycling from kerbside bins, everything from cardboard to tin cans.
With a focus on producing good quality waste materials, J&B became one of only a handful of recycling plants in the country to meet the high standards needed to export the materials to China for reprocessing.
BGF's investment helped the firm to...
Invest in state-of-the-art automated sorting machines.
Acquire a third recycling site.
Expand the business by 200 per cent.
In 2014, the company was operating two recycling facilities and a waste transfer station. Vikki saw an opportunity to expand the business by increasing capacity and improving efficiency. She met with BGF to discuss funding.
“It’s a capital-intensive industry and to maintain our high-quality waste materials, we needed to invest in state-of-the-art automated sorting machines,” explains Vikki. “BGF’s investment helped us with that, and to buy a third recycling site.”
On top of the £7.5 million investment, J&B Recycling has been able to tap into BGF’s wider network for advice and expertise as the company has continued to scale.
“They’ve been excellent for us. We’ve got a great addition to our board, providing helpful guidance and in addition to that, great access to other CEOs, directors and finance directors to discuss any issues with. The key success factor is the business has grown by over 200 per cent since the investment.”
With BGF’s backing and the support of our longstanding team across our four processing sites, we have been able to achieve what we set out to do and hit our growth targets
Vikki Jackson-Smith, managing director of J&B Recycling
Return on BGF's investment
Next stage of the journey
In 2021, J&B Recycling entered the next stage of its growth when it was acquired by the UK subsidiary of Europe’s third largest environmental services provider, Urbaser. The deal allowed BGF to exit its investment at a 2.4x return.
“With BGF’s backing and the support of our longstanding team across our four processing sites, we have been able to achieve what we set out to do and hit our growth targets,” says Vikki. “This deal will allow us to continue our growth within an organisation with shared values and goals.”
The deal concluded a seven-year partnership with BGF, in which a combination of funding, insight and support helped the business to achieve its goal of sending less waste to landfill and play a part in a 100% waste-free future.
J&B Recycling is continuing to operate under its own name while collaborating closely with businesses across the group.
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