The company, which is a subsidiary of waste management firm Biffa, held an official opening ceremony this morning (March 18) to mark the start of operations at the 20,000 tonne-a-year capacity plant.
The plant, which Biffa claims is the first of its kind in the UK, was developed on the site of Biffa Polymers’ existing food-grade plastic reprocessing plant on the Wilton Industrial Complex.
Biffa Polymers was formerly known as Greenstar WES before Greenstar UK was sold to Biffa’s owners in the autumn of 2010 (see letsrecycle.com story).
The company was aided in the development of the plant by a £1.187 million grant from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in January 2010 under its mixed plastic grant competition and a further £55,000 from the regional development agency One North East.
Initially the plant will process 15,000 tonnes of plastic each year from April 2011. This will then rise to 20,000 tonnes-a-year from April 2012. It will process plastics from Biffa materials recycling facilities, as well as local authorities and commercial firms serviced by Biffa across the UK.
Commenting on the plant, waste and recycling minister Lord Henley said: “Biffa’s innovative technology will make life easier for families who’ve puzzled over recycling their yoghurt tubs and food trays.
“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.”
The new plant will process residues from the plastic bottle fraction, such as natural and mixed colour polypropylene, polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate in addition to PVC and PS. The material is expected to be sourced from kerbside collections.
And, some of the outputs from the plant will be processed through Biffa’s food grade HDPE recycling facility on the same site, where material is cleaned extensively granulated in order to go back into the manufacture of plastic milk bottles.
Martin Marron, managing director of Biffa Polymers, 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.
Marcus Gover, director of market development at WRAP, added that the start of operations at the Redcar plant showed that recycling mixed plastics demonstrated the commercial viability of the practice.
“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,” he said.
“Householders should check locally or the postcode locator on Recycle Now to see if mixed plastic is collected in their local authority.”