World’s largest plastics plant hits recycling milestone

Coca Cola Enterprises' (CCE) joint venture with recycling firm ECO Plastics, called Continuum Recycling, has ramped up its capacity to 100% and has now sorted a quarter of a billion bottles.

Opened nine months ago at ECO Plastics’ existing site in Hemswell, the £15m expansion made the plant the largest in the world and it is now responsible for processing more than 50% of the UK’s food-grade recycled PET (rPET) plastic.

Continuum’s success has allowed CCE to establish an industry first by meeting its commitment to use 25% rPET plastic in all its bottles by the end of 2012.

The plant has also played a key part in Coca-Cola’s efforts to recycle all of the plastic bottles used during the Olympics and Paralympics, with around 15 million collected and returned to shelves as part of 63 million new bottles, during a process that lasted just six weeks.

CCE and ECO Plastics estimate that the plant will save around 33,500 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking more than 15,715 cars off the road.

CCE associate director for recycling Nick Brown said: “This state-of-the-art facility is a first for the industry and is truly transforming recycling in this country. Our partnership with ECO Plastics has helped us reach an important milestone in our on-going efforts to build a low-carbon, zero waste business here in Great Britain.”

“Its success should demonstrate to everyone, from householders to Local Authorities and policy makers, the real environmental and economic benefits of recycling and the vast potential of the GB reprocessing sector,” he added.

Over the last five years, ECO Plastics has invested more than £30m to quadruple its processing capacity and triple the factory footprint.

Since embarking on a joint venture with CCE in 2012, it has been capable of processing 150,000 tonnes of mixed plastics a year, including 40,000 tonnes of bottle-grade rPET pellet.

Conor McGlone

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