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NRAs 2019: Recycling Facility of the Year

WINNER: Plastipak/Clean Tech

Clean Tech is the UK’s largest PET reprocessor. It was acquired from administration by Plastipak in 2016, for which it supplies food-grade recycled PET for inclusion in new PET preforms/bottles.

The plant in Hemswell, Lincs, has enabled significant adoption of recycled content by companies such as Coca-Cola, Princes, Harrogate Water, Highland Spring, Montgomery Water, Co-op, Radnor Hills, Belu and others. It is a significant example of a closed-loop circular economy.

JUDGES’ COMMENT: “They have shown resilience and commitment and, as their customer feedback demonstrates, without them some big names would not be increasing their recycled content.”

In 2018, investment of more than £8m focused on improvement of the recycled polymer and driving operational efficiencies. An extrusion line previously unable to produce bottle-grade recycled polymer was converted so it achieves a quality suitable for bottle applications.

Combined with significant process and reliability improvements, the plant’s food-grade pellet output increased by 50% to 30,000 tonnes a year. It also allowed Plastipak to go from 8.5% rPET as proportion of overall resin usage in 2017 to 14.8% in 2018 and 29.8% in 2019.

The business has undergone a major cultural change in health and safety, environmental improvement and quality systems. Measures taken included: the transfer of best practice from Plastipak’s three other PET recycling plants; the establishment of standard operating procedures and key process improvements; significant recruitment and investment in training; and major process re-engineering from dry to wet granulation with a centrifugal wash system.

miles smith logo

miles smith logo

The business has plans for further expansion and development to start in 2020, and feedback from major brands shows the facility is integral to their recycled content commitments.

FINALISTS

  • Keltbray Environmental
  • Levenseat
  • Parry & Evans
  • R Collard
  • Suez Recycling & Recovery UK
  • Westminster Waste

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