Prisoner PVC recycling pilot could form UK blueprint

A pilot prisoner recycling scheme in Rochdale could be used as a national model to capture greater volumes of low-grade PVC if it proves successful.

HM Prison Service has teamed up with PVC Recycling, a Manchester-based plastics firm, to employ low-risk offenders to sort and segregate heavily contaminated plastic for the reprocessor who will then refine it further.

The pilot was launched last month and involves 30 men working up to 37 hours per week at Buckley Hall Prison in Rochdale. Up to four tonnes of material can be processed at the jail’s facilities each day.

The plan is to eventually roll the scheme out to local hubs throughout the UK, providing new work opportunities for prisoners.

PVC Recycling’s managing director Ian Murray says processing this low-grade waste stream close to its origination is the best way of generating return on investment.

“Hand-sorting is part of the initial recycling process for this material, because technology is not available to deliver the quality the manufacturer requires – which is why we have chosen this challenging, but ultimately practical route.”

Buckley Hall Prison’s governor Susan Kennedy reports that the scheme is working well and claims the inmates enjoy the work.

She said: “It’s a very positive partnership. The Prison Service is keen to work with commercial partners on projects such as enterprises involved in recycling, and develop initiatives that contribute to the wider green agenda.”

The segregated material received by PVC Recycling is processed into a chip or melt-filtrated pellet suitable for remanufacture. The carbon footprint of recycling end-of-life PVC products is estimated to be 94% less than producing the prime equivalent.

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie