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Biffa plc
Public limited company
IndustryWaste management
Founded1912 (Wembley)
FounderRichard Henry Biffa
United Kingdom
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Michael Topham (Chief Executive)
Revenue£1076.7 million (2018)[1]
£150.0m (2018)[1]

Biffa plc is a waste management company headquartered in High Wycombe, United Kingdom. It provides collection, landfill, recycling and special waste services to local authorities and industrial and commercial clients in the UK. As of 2017 it is the second-largest UK-based waste-management company.[2]


Biffa Group Limited is a leading UK waste management company headquartered in High Wycombe, United Kingdom. It provides collection, recycling, treatment, disposal and technologically-driven energy generation services across four operating divisions.

Biffa service over 2.5 million households and collect 4.1 million bins per week within its municipal division, and has over 72,000 industrial and commercial customers.

As of 2017, it is the second-largest UK-based waste management company in terms of turnover. Biffa is the largest waste management company in the UK in terms of volume collected and national coverage, collecting over 250,000 bins per week and covering 95% of UK postcodes.


The business was founded in Wembley by Richard Henry Biffa in 1912. The company, then called Richard Biffa Limited, was engaged in the removal and sale of ashes and clinker from London power stations, later adding sand and gravel and waste disposal to its operations.

In 1958 Richard Henry Biffa's 19-year-old grandson, Richard Charles Biffa, joined as a general trainee with duties including tea boy, yard boy, fitter's mate, driver's mate and routing clerk. From 1960-1963 he took over responsibility for plant operations and maintenance and was made manager in 1963.

He spent the rest of the decade building the waste company by acquisition and organic growth and consolidated the company's position in the waste management market. Richard Charles Biffa is also widely credited[citation needed] with introducing the now ubiquitous waste skip to the UK, making Biffa a household name.

In 1971, the directors, Dorando Goss Biffa, Richard Frank Biffa, Colin Richard John Biffa and Richard Charles Biffa sold the business to BET Plc for a reported figure of £750,000.

Severn Trent[edit]

The business was acquired by BET plc, the industrial services group, in 1971 and subsequently sold to water company Severn Trent in 1991 for £212 million. After significant acquisitive growth in the 1980s, the pattern from 1991 was one of organic growth stimulated by strategic regional acquisitions as well as the large purchase of American-owned UK Waste for £380 million.

Severn Trent demerged Biffa to WasteAcquisitionCo Ltd in 2008 – this was an entity formed by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), Montagu Private Equity & Uberior Co-Investment Ltd (UCIL). In 2010, Biffa acquired recycling firm Greenstar UK which, at that time, was run by the current Biffa Chief Executive Ian Wakelin.[2]


In early 2013 the company was sold to Angelo Gordon & Co, Avenue Capital Group, Babson Capital Europe Limited and Sankaty Advisors.

In October 2016 Biffa plc proceeded with an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange.

Biffa was re-listed on the London Stock Exchange on 17 October 2016.[3]


Biffa provides collection, landfill, recycling and special waste services to local authorities and industrial and commercial clients in the UK. In July 2014 it extended its offering within the retail sector by converting waste for Sainsbury's, enabling the chain to take one of its stores off the National Grid.

Biffa has four operational divisions:

Industrial & Commercial (I&C)[edit]

2,700 people are employed within this division which has a fleet of over 1,100 waste collection vehicles. Biffa’s 94 I&C sites cover 95% of the UK and operates under a regional business model, allowing focus to be placed on the customers and businesses in each area.

In 2016, over 2.1 million tonnes of waste was collected within I&C from 13 million bin collections.[citation needed]

Household waste (Municipal)[edit]

Over 3,700 people are employed within this division and it serves 37 local authorities, 4 of which are in the top 10 best performing councils according to the DEFRA recycling league table.

The Municipal division includes dry mixed recycling, organic recyclables, WEEE & textiles, street and beach cleansing and general waste. Biffa also created the Green Waste Club which collects garden and green waste.

Resource Recovery & Treatment (RR&T)[edit]

Biffa’s RR&T division focuses on processing residual and recyclable materials. Biffa has two fully automated Material Recycling Facilities (MRFs) located near Birmingham and London and has a processing capacity of 400k tonnes per annum. This is equivalent to the household recycling of 4 million people.

Hazardous waste is also treated within this division. Biffa operates 11 facilities and has 50 vehicles providing collection, treatment and disposal services for chemical and hazardous waste.[citation needed]


Biffa pioneered the development of landfill gas capture and power generation over 25 years ago and generates 530 million kWh of energy every year. Landfill gas is acquired by extracting methane from landfill sites to use in energy production.

Biffa’s anaerobic digestion plant is the largest of its kind in Europe, with a processing capacity of 120k tonnes of food waste per annum. Mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) is also operated within this division. Biffa has two mixed waste separation plants that recover recyclable material and prepare residual waste into fuels for energy recovery.[citation needed]

Research & Development[edit]

Biffa aim to lead the way in developing sustainable solutions[citation needed] and have been one of the first UK waste management companies to develop and trial energy innovations including “pin wells” for gas recovery, treating landfill gas to improve performance, supplying by private wire under the RO, using a flexible PPA to sell power and self-supplying and securing ROCs.

Biffa have identified and begun to implement a number of bespoke gas treatment opportunities where, in particular, silicon compounds have begun to feature as significant contaminants in the gas fuel feed which have a negative impact on engine performance. The treatments target gas where the removal of certain compounds (silicon, VOC compounds) would improve efficiency, extend oil life, increase engine load factor by reducing maintenance and associated downtime, and lead to an overall uplift in generated output.[citation needed]

Corporate social responsibility[edit]

Landfill Communities Fund[edit]

Biffa established the Biffa Award in 1997 and has since awarded grants totalling more than £140 million to more than 3,000 projects nationwide. Almost 500,000 hectares of land have been improved for biodiversity and an estimated 265,000 people have directly benefited from project improvements.[citation needed]

Health and safety focus[edit]

Safety remains a top priority at Biffa.[citation needed] In 2015, in recognition of its efforts to improve health and safety at work whilst protecting the environment, the company became the first to be awarded 5 stars in the SHE audit.[citation needed] In 2016 the company retained its five stars and achieved a rating of 97.5%.[citation needed]

In March 2015, the lost time incident rate at Biffa was down by 44 per cent on July 2013, with its materials recycling facilities, and one region within its Municipal division, now statistically 20 times safer than they were four years ago.[citation needed]

The accolade recognised that Biffa has helped to further boost its safety credentials[citation needed] with campaigns such as ‘DROPS, driving recklessly on pavements’ and ‘People in Bins’, which have gained significant national press coverage[citation needed] and substantially raised the public’s awareness of these issues.[citation needed]

People in bins[edit]

In 2016, in collaboration with StreetLink and the CIWM, Biffa commissioned research into the issues, risks and prevention of people sleeping in waste containers. The results led to a campaign to raise awareness around the issue of rough sleepers and the dangers they are exposed to from the waste management industry.

The campaign reached the national news, appearing on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme and Sky News.[citation needed]

Revenue: £990m

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Full year results 2018" (PDF). Biffa. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  2. ^ Flanagan, Martin (23 September 2017). "Business Interview: Biffa chief Ian Wakelin". The Scotsman. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  3. ^ Bury, Rhiannon (14 June 2017). "Biffa profits hit by costs of London float". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 September 2017.

External links[edit]