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UK's first mixed plastics recycling plant opens

Biffa Polymers and WRAP have opened the UK’s first sorting and recycling plant for mixed plastics such as margarine tubs and yoghurt pots.

Located in Redcar, Middlesborough, the 20,000 tonne a year facility is the first of its kind in the UK. It enables hard-to-recycle plastics to be reprocessed and turned into products such as paint trays, plant pots, storage boxes, bottles, car parts and office furniture.

Rigid plastics will be the main feedstock for the plant but plastic bottles will also be accepted, as some source material may still have PET and HDPE material left in. Any HDPE bottles will be reprocessed at Biffa’s food grade facility on the same site and PET sent off for reprocessing.

The plant was originally operated by Greenstar WES but the company has since been acquired by Biffa. It has created 28 jobs in Redcar.

Waste and recycling minister Lord Henley said: “Not only will this investment help households and businesses who want to recycle more, but it also gives a welcomed boost to green jobs in the north east. It’s part of green growth - making valuable resources available again to the economy.”

Biffa’s plant will begin processing 15,000 tonnes of material a year from April. Full capacity of 20,000 tonnes a year will be reached by April 2012. Feedstock will be provided by Biffa’s MRFs, local authorities and commercial Biffa customers from across the UK.

WRAP awarded Greenstar WES funding of £1.187m in January 2010 to help build the facility in a bid to kick-start recycling of mixed plastics in the UK.

WRAP director of market development Marcus Gover said: “WRAP is delighted that the Redcar facility is now open and demonstrating that it is commercially viable to recycle mixed plastics and that there are real end markets for the high value, quality outputs.

“Recycling mixed plastics adds value to the UK economy by transforming a waste into a usable, commercial product, retaining the value rather than allowing it to end up in landfill.”

Biffa Polymers managing director Martin Marron said: “Following the success of being the first company in the UK to produce food grade recycled HDPE plastic which is used to make new milk bottles, Biffa Polymers is delighted to be once again at the forefront of the recycling industry. We believe in pushing the boundaries to find the best solutions for plastic recycling in the UK.”

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