British and US firm Fiberight is planning to build a £10 million plant that uses water to separate plastics usually lost to incineration or landfill.
Working with four partners on the Uncaptured Unrecycled Plastics (UP) project, the consortium has secured £4.2 million in co-funding from Innovate UK’s Smart Sustainable Packaging Challenge. It has also received £100,000 funding towards a £200,000 research and development project from the Welsh Government to commercialise a near-to-market application for flexible plastics.
The UP project will establish a commercial-scale demonstration facility processing post-consumer plastic packaging from mixed waste streams, such as reject materials from MRFs.
Based in Swansea, the facility will use feedstock from local MRFs. Initially, this will be contaminated MRF films and contaminated rigid plastics. Eventually, it will process MRF reject materials.
The 60,000 tonnes per year facility will involve partners Impact Recycling whose BOSS polymer separation systems will be integrated with Fiberight’s HYDRACYCLE process. The HYDRACYCLE technology uses water to separate and clean plastics, with the dirty water then sent to anaerobic digestion plants to be processed.
Rigid plastics recycler Moulding Solutions will be the key off-take partner for recycling the recovered rigid plastics. These will be used in production of products such as utilities pipes, wheelie bins and packaging.
Ranela Recycling Services will advise on product quality, recycling equipment and routes to market for finished or film-based plastic products.
Fiberight co-founder and managing director Nick Thompson said: “The UP project will showcase the full value chain collaborating to establish a new way of recycling plastic packaging in the UK, capturing the lost resources and realising significant environmental benefits.
“It will play a key role in increasing the recycling of plastics in the UK by establishing much-needed infrastructure. By 2028, we aim to increase the amount of flexible plastics recycled in the UK by 300% – compared to 2021 levels of recycling.
“Ultimately, we are confident the project will showcase a game-changing innovation in the waste and recycling industry, thereby enabling access to finance for future commercial ventures.”