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plastic bags get dedicated recycling plant from PlasRecycle

27th September 2013

The plastics recycler has opened a ‘UK first’ polythene bag recycling plant in Woolwich, South East London. PlasRecycle has committed £10.7 million of Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the Foresight Environmental Fund and the London Waste & Recycling Board (LWARB) funding to the development of the plant which they say will have an annual capacity of 20,000 tonnes.

The opening of the plant came just days after the government announced its 5p charge policy for plastic bags which will take effect in England from autumn 2015. Paul Levett, company chairman of PasRecycle has denied that this will pose a threat to the facility as it is able to process both single use and long life bags. The UK currently exports most if it’s waste plastic bag recycling collections to China for processing but the Chinese Government’s ‘Green Fence’ initiative [read more here] has made this increasingly difficult.

The waste plastic bags which enter the waste stream are separated from other plastics in the UK at MRFs or by in-store retailer collection points but the sorting performed in the UK is not thorough enough to meet the strict Chinese gate policy. UK exporters have had to charge up to £40 a tonne to cover the costs of sorting the material. PlasRecycle will charge prices for feedstock to be determined by the amount of contamination – with lower quality material likely to incur a gate fee. A greater focus on recycling plastic waste from inside the UK will help divert the waste plastic from landfill and provide recyclate from a UK source which will lead to carbon savings and assist the UK in meeting its EU emissions and waste objectives.

Resource management minister, Lord de Mauley, said: "This new recycling plant shows that dealing with waste and recycling properly is not only good for the environment but can boost economic growth and create jobs. I’m delighted to see this sector growing and improving our ability to recycle more here in the UK." Mr Johnson added: "It is fantastic to see more of this kind of recycling here in London, in this case turning plastic film back into useable plastic – a UK first. This burgeoning new sector, supported through the London Waste and Recycling Board and the Foresight Environmental fund is helping to save huge sums of money while supporting new jobs and growth, and reducing carbon emissions in the capital."

Currently the plant is in the final stages of testing and is due to become fully operational by the end of the year. Comply Direct work with a network of plastics and other materials reprocessors and recyclers to help their Packaging Scheme members achieve their annual Packaging Compliance.

For more information about how the new plant could affect 2014 PRN prices or the Comply Direct Packaging Scheme please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of Comply Direct team.