Government research body announces fresh support for plastics recycling facilities alongside £65m of industry investment
Four "cutting-edge" plastics recycling plants have today secured a share of £20m in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), forming part of the UK's largest ever investment in plastic chemical recycling technologies, according to the government research body.
Designed to reduce the amount of plastic sent for landfill, incineration or export to facilities overseas, the recycling plants will expand the range of plastic materials which can be recycled in the UK, as well as increasing capacity for processing, UKRI said.
The £20m investment today has been made available through the government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The agency said that when combined with more than £65m of funding from industry in support of the projects, the deals represented the largest investment the UK has made in plastic packaging recycling technologies to date.
Technologies supported through the funding announced today include Teesside firm ReNew's plan to build a 'catalytic hydrothermal reactor' that converts 20,000 tonnes of waste plastics per year into chemicals for use in the production of new virgin grade plastics.
Poseidon Plastics has also received funding to help construct a 15,000 tonnes per year PET plastics recycling facility alongside waste and plastics specialists Biffa, Alpek Polyester UK, and DuPont Teijin Films. The project aims to chemically recycle plastic waste back into new consumer goods, UKRI said.
Both the ReNew and Poseidon Plastics facilities are located at the same site on Teesside, where they have the potential to create around 200 local jobs, according to UKRI.
In addition, waste and recycling giant Veolia has teamed up with Unilever, packaging specialist Charpak and sustainable manufacturing non-profit HSSMI to develop what they claim will be the UK's first dual PET plastic bottle and tray recycling facility capable of recycling 100 per cent of clear rigid PET in a closed-loop system. Supported by UKRI funding, the project is first set to undergo initial trials and if successful would see the new facility process up to 35,000 tonnes per year of mixed PET packaging waste for use in new packaging.
Finally, Recycling Technologies has been awarded funding for a chemical recycling plant that aims to use thermal cracking to turn 7,000 tonnes per annum of plastic waste into 5,200 tonnes of hydrocarbon oil as a replacement for crude oil in plastic production. The plant, which is aimed at creating packaging such as films, sachets, and pouches from hard-to-recycle plastics, is being developed in Perth, Scotland, alongside partners Unilever and biofuels specialist Neste Corporation.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said the funding was further evidence of the government's commitment to "clamp down on the unacceptable plastic waste that harms our environment [by] ensuring more materials can be reused instead of being thrown away".
"By investing in these truly ground-breaking technologies we will help to drive these efforts even further, and I look forward to seeing them develop and deliver real results," she added.
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