Four projects aimed at reducing waste plastics sent to landfill and incineration plants have secured a total of £20 million of investment.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) says its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is investing in “cutting edge” facilities, expected to increase the available recycling capacity and expand the range of plastics being recycled.
ReNew ELP has proposed to set up a plant at Teesside that would convert 20,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) – and increasing to 80,000tpa on-site completion – of end of life plastic into chemicals and oils for use in the production of new virgin grade plastics including naphtha, waxes and a bitumen-like residue suitable for use in road construction.
Recycling Technologies plans to develop a chemical recycling plant in Scotland that uses thermal cracking to recycle a wide range of plastic waste that cannot be recycled by conventional methods.
It would process 7,000tpa of hard-to-recycle mixed plastic waste, producing 5,200tpa of a hydrocarbon oil that can replace crude oil in plastics production, allowing it to be recycled an unlimited number of times.
It will work with Neste Corporation and Unilever to develop chemical recycling and make hard-to-recycle plastic packaging, such as films, sachets and pouches, recyclable.
Poseidon Plastics aims to commercialise its novel enhanced recycling technology through the construction of a 15,000tpa PET recycling facility at Teesside.
It will partner with waste management company Biffa and PET resin producers Alpek Polyester UK and DuPont Teijin Films UK to demonstrate how post-consumer and post-industrial packaging, film and other hard-to-recycle PET wastes can be chemically recycled back into new consumer end-use goods.
Through collaboration with the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York and polyester fibre users O’Neills Irish International Sports Company and GRN Sportswear (Presca), the consortium further aims to demonstrate and optimise a closed-loop, circular economy for all polyester materials.
Veolia will work with Unilever, Charpak Ltd and HSSMI to develop the UK’s first dual PET bottle and tray recycling facility, capable of recycling 100% of clear rigid PET in a closed-loop system. This will create a new, complementary non-food closed loop for recycled PET and widen the availability of the material for use in bottles and trays.
If initial trials are successful, the proposed facility would process 35,000tpa of mixed PET packaging waste at an existing Veolia site.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The government is committed to both clamping down on the unacceptable plastic waste that harms our environment and ensuring more materials can be reused instead of being thrown away.
“By investing in these truly ground-breaking technologies we will help to drive these efforts even further and I look forward to seeing them develop and deliver real results.”
The funding is part of UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) challenge, which aims to increase the amount of recyclable plastic packaging and improve UK productivity in plastics.