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Procurement

UK to invest £20m in ‘next generation’ plastic recycling market

LONDON (ICIS)–The UK Research and Innovation
(UKRI) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is
investing £20m in four recycling plants across
England and Scotland, including projects from
waste management companies Biffa and Veolia,
the UKRI announced on Friday.

The £20m investment from the Industrial
Strategy Challenge Fund, along with over £65m
of industry investment, represents the largest
investment the UK has made in plastic packaging
recycling technologies, the UKRI said in a
press release.

The four projects receiving funding are:

  • ReNew ELP’s Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor
    (Cat-HTR™) plant
  • Recycling Technologies’ chemical recycling
    plant
  • Poseidon Plastics’ hard-to-recycle PET
    chemical recycling plant
  • A collaboration between Veolia, Unilever,
    Charpak Ltd and HSSMI to develop the UK’s first
    dual PET bottle and tray recycling facility.

The facilities, once completed, have the
potential to process close to 130,000 tonnes of
waste plastic, though the actually amount of
recycled material may differ depending on
factors such as process losses and quality of
inputted material.

“Clearly from 2021 we are set to see a step
change in the development of plastic recycling
technologies in the UK, a market in much need
of improvement in its waste infrastructure
which produces low quality recyclates and still
looks to export markets to deal with its
waste.” said Helen McGeough, ICIS Senior
Analyst Recycling.

ReNew ELP

ReNew stated on their
website
the award of £4.42 million received
will be used to build the world’s first
commercial-scale plastic recycling plant using
Cat-HTR™ technology. The grant will aid ReNew
ELP in the construction of the initial plant,
which commences build in Q1 2021 and will see
up to 80,000 tonnes of waste plastic recycled
annually upon completion.

UKRI states the plant will be built at Wilton,
in Teeside, England, and end of life plastic
into chemicals and oils for use in the
production of new virgin grade plastics
including naphtha, waxes, and a bitumen-like
residue suitable for use in road construction.

Recycling Technologies

Recycling Technologies, Neste and Unilever are
collaborating to further develop and harness
chemical recycling to recover and reuse plastic
packaging that is currently either incinerated,
buried in landfill or exported from the UK,
according to Recycling Technologies’
website
, using £3.1m from the UKRI grant.

In a three-year project, Recycling Technologies
will chemically recycle waste plastic packaging
into Plaxx oil at their plant in Perth,
Scotland, which will be delivered to Neste for
testing. Neste will further upgrade the Plaxx
oil, turning it into high-quality drop-in
feedstock for the production of new,
virgin-quality plastics. Unilever will bring
insight on design for recycling for packaging.

The plant is designed to process 7,000tpa of
hard-to-recycle mixed plastic waste, producing
5,200tpa of a hydrocarbon oil which can replace
crude oil in plastics production, UKIR said.

Poseidon Plastics

Poseidon Plastics will be using the grant to
construct a 15,000 tonne per annum PET
recycling facility, located at the Wilton
international site at Teesside, close to other
plastic packaging and recycling infrastructure
such as ReNew.

In a statement from Biffa, who joins Poseidon
Plastics and others as part of the Poseidon
Project, the waste management company said
Poseidon designed and trialled a 50-500kg plant
which is being upscaled to a 15,000-tonne
demonstrator plant, and Biffa will be providing
the feedstock to this 15,000-tonne plant, from
Biffa’s £27.5m rPET recycling facility in
Seaham.

Other members of the Poseidon Project, due to
start in 2021, are Dupont Teijin Films, Alpek,
GRN and O’Neills.

Veolia

Veolia in collaboration with Unilever, Charpak
Ltd and HSSMI, will develop the UK’s first dual
PET bottle and tray recycling facility
(supported by a digital twin created by HSSMI),
capable of recycling 100% of clear rigid PET in
a closed-loop system.

Charpak Ltd will use the flakes produced in its
trays, making tray to tray recycling a reality,
while Unilever will investigate the non-food
contact recycled PET produced from this
facility in its home and personal care range,
so avoiding the use of food contact grade
material in these non-food products.

Through the development and use of the digital
twin, HSSMI will pioneer a virtual engineering
approach in the waste industry, which will help
optimise the facility and identify potential
commercial challenges.

If initial trials are successful, the proposed
facility would process 35,000tpa of mixed PET
packaging waste at an existing Veolia site.

McGeough added: “This investment goes some way
to improve the prospect of greater circularity
of resources, making waste a true resource and
extending the life of those materials. These
projects have the potential to contribute to a
greater proportion of plastic waste being
diverted from the typical energy-from-waste and
landfill disposal routes that dominate the
current UK infrastructure.

“With investment levels from industry three
times that of UKRI, it demonstrates the real
commitment from the sector to change the
profile of plastic waste management. Demand for
recycled polymers significantly outstrips
supply so there is no question that there are
end users willing and able to take the output
from these projects.”

The funding of the four projects forms part of
UKRI’s Smart
Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP)
challenge
, which aims to increase the
amount of recyclable plastic packaging and
improve UK productivity in plastics, leading to
a reduction in plastic waste entering the
environment.

Focus article by Matt Tudball


Click here
 to see regulatory targets
and a list of chemical and mechanical recyclers
on the ICIS Circular Economy topic page.

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