UK’s first recycling facility for shopping bags

Supermarket shoppers probably have dozens of used plastic bags stuffed in a drawer at home – but that could soon be a thing of the past. A new facility dedicated […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Supermarket shoppers probably have dozens of used plastic bags stuffed in a drawer at home – but that could soon be a thing of the past.

A new facility dedicated to recycling consumer shopping plastic bags – a first in the UK – has been opened in south east London.

The £10.7 million plant recycles polyethylene bags and packaging films to produce a clean plastic granulate that can be used for making new carrier bags and other products. It can process 20,000 tonnes of used plastic films every year. Recycling one tonne of plastic packaging saves around one and a half tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Bags currently collected for recycling – either separated from other plastics at recycling plants or through supermarket collection points – are usually sent overseas for processing. China is believed to be the biggest buyer of the material.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “It is fantastic to see more of this kind of recycling here in London, in this case turning plastic film back into useable plastic – a UK first. This burgeoning new sector is helping to save huge sums of money while supporting new jobs and growth and reducing carbon emissions in the capital.”

Investors in the Greenwich facility built by PlasRecycle include Foresight Environmental Fund, the London Waste & Recycling Board, government waste body WRAP and private investors.

Last month the first facility in the UK for recycling cartons was officially opened in Stainland in West Yorkshire.