The major upgrade to the plant at Hemswell, Lincolnshire, will quadruple its recycling capacity to 15 tonnes of plastic waste every hour 100,000 tonnes annually. Like the Closed Loop Recycling plant in Dagenham, east London, the facility will be able to make food grade recycled plastics.
AWS chief executive Jonathan Short told MRW: The wheels have been set in motion and by the turn of the year we will be supplying food grade recycled plastics to the market.
The Hemswell plant is able to segregate and process a wider range of plastics which have previously been baled or sent abroad for reprocessing. Most bottles are delabelled, granulated and washed at the plant. The resulting flakes are then sent on for use in new products including fleece jackets, piping and packaging.
The issue of mixed plastic collections has been widely discussed this year in the recycling industry. Mixed plastic represents up to 7% of the domestic weight stream by weight and the vast majority ends up in landfill sites.
Short said: There is nobody in the UK recycling industry making food grade plastics in any quantity which represents a huge opportunity for us. Until very recently no-one in the UK has been able to produce recycled plastic which was clean enough and odour free to be turned into food or drink packaging. This is a major breakthrough and is something supermarkets have been seeking for some time as they strive to meet their recycling targets.
AWS has plans to expand its operations further at Hemswell and to open new plants throughout the UK and in Europe.