He visited the Woolwich-based facility with Liberal Democrat MEP for London Baroness Sarah Ludford. They were given a tour of the facility which has been developed by recycling specialists PlasRecycle.

The new plant, which started operations in late 2013, uses a high tech proprietary process developed by PlasRecycle over the past four years, to reprocess up to 20,000 tonnes per annum of used shopping bags and plastic films – equivalent to one third of all of the 8 billion so-called “single-use” carrier bags handed out by supermarkets every year in the UK.

According to the firm, the plant produces a plastic granulate that can be used for making new bags, replacing virgin materials. For every tonne of plastic packaging that is reprocessed and recycled, there is a corresponding saving of 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

PlasRecycle has received financial support through the Foresight Environmental Fund (FEF), which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and has benefited from the target to increase the recycling of household plastic by 50% set by the EU Waste Framework Directive.

PlasRecycle founder and chief executive Duncan Grierson said: “We were delighted to show our new plant to the Secretary of State and Sarah Ludford MEP. We welcome politicians from across the political spectrum since it is of great importance that the move towards a circular economy should pick up momentum, where waste materials are reprocessed and reused.”

“Waste is a resource that has been under-utilised for too long. There are now a range of clean technologies available to ensure we make the most of our resources in the UK. PlasRecycle is making a small but important contribution to the UK’s environmental targets set by the EU’s Waste Framework Directive and the Climate Change Bill.

“Scientific research by the Environment Agency has shown that regular polythene carrier bags have a much better carbon footprint than alternatives such as paper bags and bio-degradable bags.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey added: “”It is great to see this investment in innovative green technology here in the UK and great to see plastic bags being recycled for the first time ever in the UK. PlasRecycle’s plant is certainly impressive and its pioneering technology means local authorities and businesses no longer have to export, landfill or incinerate their waste plastic bags but have this state of the art alternative.

“Combined with incentives to cut plastic bag usage, this new recycling technology means the litter and marine pollution from plastic bags can be dramatically reduced.”

PlasRecycle chairman Paul Levett, Chairman of PlasRecycle concluded: “Our plant is open for business and we offer Local Authorities a real alternative to landfill for the plastic bags and other films that are used by their residents. We can convert these back into a clean pellet for making refuse sacks and other useful products.”

The plant has had many visitors from leading political figures. In February, Business Minister Michael Fallon also visited the facility.

Liz Gyekye

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