Waste Management Assets
Waste Recycling / Waste Recovery Operations and Waste Transfer Stations
These waste management assets are very different from conventional industrial property in that they often have special consents, EPA licences, specialist site improvements and more recently environmental impact minimisation improvements. It is therefore not always appropriate to apply general industrial land values to the site, as is frequently the case by inexperienced valuers. However the industrial land value does provide a platform for assessing a non consented site, but any active consent and current licence would often add a premium to the industrial land value to fully reflect the circumstances of the operation. Conversely a discount may be applied for any future rehabilitation / remediation / restoration conditions, but also an assessment of any current pollution that impacts the value in the short term. More recently particularly within the Sydney market and following a downturn in economic activity after the financial crisis, but also as a result of annually increasing Landfill Levies, then there is a cronic oversupply
of Recycling Operations, with many sites being offered for sale, with little or no interest, and additional newly consented operations coming to the market, which is adding additional capacity to an oversupplied market.
There is always a difficulty for valuers to obtain good market evidence of sales and leases for waste management transactions. Even where evidence is available it is the analyses of the transaction that can be difficult to determine. As a consequence there is often a great deal of valuer input and the necessary experience is vital in the outcome of an accurate valuation. For instance if a planning consent or an EPA licence is in breach then the site can be closed down immediately. It is essential that the valuer be aware of the licence conditions and consent conditions in order to report any discrepancies and inconsistencies within the report.
As with most businesses, location can play an important role in the success of the operation. This principal also applies to waste recycling operations which compete with rivals in a given area. An understanding of the market share and pricing policy is also vital in determining the potential success of any business, as there are often minimum inputs/outputs to be achieved to optimise the operation. Clearly there are difficult times for many operators as over capacity within many markets has its impacts.
Landfill Gas, Landfill Generators and Flare Stacks
Landfill gas can be generated by burying a single tree. Therefore at domestic waste landfills there are a sizeable amount of gases produced that either have to be flared or can be utilised for electricity production. These options are normally determined by both the quality and quantity of the gas. Both the gas and the installations require specialist valuation knowledge and due to lack of market evidence are often dealt with on a depreciated replacement cost basis together with a capitalised royalty for the gas.
Alternative Waste Treatment Plants (AWTs)
Alternative Waste Treatment plants are a relatively new technology to
Sydney currently has three established AWT's, with another two planned. It is expected that the number of AWTs will expand rapidly over the next 10 years.
However there will still be a need for landfills as AWTs are approximately 75% efficient and the remaining 25% is likely to end up in a landfill. In terms of valuation, then the depreciated replacement cost would form the basis of assessment, but also where competition arises, the capacity, economies of scale, and inclusion of the latest technology will determine the overall success in receiving inputs and this would be driven by the pricing policy. There is also the current uncertainty in terms of obsolescence and depreciation and in this ever changing industry, expertise is required to properly assess the changes to values. Sydneys first AWT at Eastern Creek had significant debts that eventually they could not service and sold for we understand $1.00 and wrote off a loss of we believe $50 Million. The new operators intend to expand the current capacity which they believe will make the operation viable again, but the future financial aspect of the AWT's are yet to be fully established and clearly involve high risks at present.
Legislation / Regulations
Every state in
Australia has different legislation and regulations in relation to Waste Management. The Federal Government has been slow to act in terms of providing a broad framework document for all States to base their policies on. As a result we have a myriad of regulation which is ever evolving and often has significant impacts on the values of operations on an on going basis. It is therefore important for most operators to understand the value of their underlying assets in order to properly reflect returns within their pricing structure.
"Liability limited by
a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation."