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NEC4 Collaboration on Dry Mixed Recycling Facility

NEC4 contracts have been used to procure a state-of-the-art dry mixed waste recycling facility in south Wales. Client Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council engaged contractor Blue Southern to deliver the 65,000 t per year facility under an NEC4 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option A (priced contract with activity schedule).

The contractor then engaged its subcontractors and suppliers under back-to-back NEC4 Engineering and Construction Subcontracts (ECS) and NEC4 Supply Contracts (SC) respectively. Work started on the £8 million project in September 2018 and it was completed on time and budget in November 2019.

The new facility more than doubles the capacity of the previous plant on the site, which mainly sorted the incoming municipal dry recycling waste by hand. The new automated plant has seven Tomra optical sorters, six of which have lasers for detecting black plastics. Two can also pick out metal – the first of their kind in the UK.

Together with ballistic separators, bag openers, magnetic sorters and balers, the plant is achieving material purity levels of 97.5%.


NEC project manager Steve Williams, head of strategic investment at the council, says with Brexit looming the contractor had some concerns that most of the equipment was being sourced from mainland Europe.

‘After a series of NEC risk workshops and analysis, a supplemental agreement to the contract was drafted where both parties agreed to revise this particular risk to a 50-50 risk share basis. We then worked together to mitigate the potential risks by bringing in the equipment in advance.’

He says the pre-contract NEC workshops and training sessions also helped to build a true ‘spirit of mutual trust and co-operation’ between the parties and set the tone on what was expected of each party when administering the contract.

‘The contractor had limited experience of the NEC contract so appointed Trebes Consulting as its NEC advisor. We all then worked with the contractor's project manager to produce a contractually compliant programme.’


Williams says revision and updating of the programme was carried out collaboratively. ‘All parties effectively used the NEC early warning mechanisms, with regular meetings held to look jointly at ways to mitigate potential delays and cost increases.’

To aid the administration process, he say the parties used a cloud-based NEC management system and again carried out joint training to further integrate the team. ‘Having the subcontractors and suppliers appointed on back-to-back NEC4 supply and sub contracts also enabled the collaborative approach to flow down the supply chain.’

Williams concludes, ‘Using NEC contracts fostered a genuine collaborative environment that allowed the flexibility to adapt to the inevitable changes that occurred throughout the delivery of the plant through changing waste streams.

‘Since its completion on time and budget in November 2019, the new facility is performing to its optimum capacity and has provided us with improved recycling rates, improved staff working conditions and the flexibility to meet differing recycling requirements.’


NEC flexibility enabled the fixed-price payment option to be amended to share the specific risk of Brexit delays on importing equipment from mainland Europe.

NEC workshops and training sessions helped to build a true ‘spirit of mutual trust and co-operation’ between the parties and set the tone on what was expected of each party when administering the contract.

NEC early warning mechanism enabled the parties to identify and collaboratively mitigate potential delays and cost increases, including the need to accommodate changing waste streams.


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