Viridor signs agreement on UK plastics chemical recycling initiative

Waste management firm Viridor has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with chemical recycling company Plastic Energy to explore a system that treats non-recycled plastic waste using low-carbon electricity to create recycled plastic feedstocks.

The two companies believe that up to 30,000 tonnes of currently non-recyclable plastic could be treated annually

The two companies believe that up to 30,000 tonnes of currently non-recyclable plastic could be treated annually

The project aims to create a chemical recycling plant that would be co-located with a Viridor energy recovery facility. The two companies would then treat low-density plastic film – a material stream not usually recycled due to contamination concerns – at the chemical recycling plant.

Low-carbon electricity sourced from the energy recovery plant would be used to power the process that would turn the low-density film into recycled oils to be used as a feedstock to create virgin-quality recycled plastic materials.

Earlier this year, Viridor inked a new multi-million-pound contract with washroom services firm phs Group, to divert non-recyclable hygiene waste such as nappies and sanitary products from landfill to be used for power generation.

Viridor’s managing director Phillip Piddington said: “This project is further evidence of Viridor’s ongoing commitment to investment and innovation to push the boundaries of what is recycled and reprocessed in the United Kingdom. We are very proud to be working with Plastic Energy to develop a project which further demonstrates how all waste can be considered a resource and not rubbish and that collaboration is the key to achieving our green economy goals.”

The two companies believe that up to 30,000 tonnes of currently non-recyclable plastic could be treated annually. If successful, the project is expected to be finalised by the end of 2023.

Plastic Energy currently operates two commercial chemical recycling plants in Spain. The company’s Tacoil is produced from the treatment process and is used to create recycled plastics in collaboration with the chemical industry.

Plastic Energy’s founder Carlos Monreal said: “We are delighted to support the development of an integrated site with Viridor in the UK and provide a solution for plastics previously not recycled. Chemical recycling will support the government’s goal to move towards a circular economy and to increase recycling rates for plastics, effectively making plastic waste a valuable resource.”

More businesses are turning to chemical recycling processes in order to combat the lack of recycling of plastics globally. Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled.

A breakthrough recycling method that using a novel enzyme to breakdown plastics is being backed by a consortium of global businesses including Lucozade Ribena Suntory and PepsiCo.

Elsewhere, Mars and Nestlé have teamed up with packaging solutions firm Citeo, energy giant Total and recycling technology provider Recycling Technologies to develop an industrial chemical recycling process for plastic packaging in France.

Matt Mace



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