A website addresses the issue of “hard to dispose” soft plastic in the UK. The facility is unique in that it can convert a variety of polymers, including film, into reusable materials.
In Fife, a ground-breaking new recycling plant is now operational and will reprocess soft plastics that are “hard-to-recycle.” It seeks to expand the UK’s plastics recycling infrastructure in order to keep the material in a “closed cycle” and prevent its export.
Morrisons owns a portion of the property, which was built and will be run by recycling facility experts Yes Recycling. Other organisations, such as Nestlé UK & Ireland and Zero Waste Scotland, contributed to the creation of this innovative reprocessing facility.
The new reprocessing facility makes use of recently invented, patent-pending technology. Flexible food packaging that is difficult to recycle will be converted into plastic flakes, pellets, and new Ecosheet*, which can be used in a variety of applications, such as building and agriculture. The facility can recycle 15,000 tonnes of post-consumer plastic packaging annually when operating at maximum capacity.
The difficult-to-recycle soft plastic, such as chocolate wrappers, crisp packets, and food film, will be delivered to the site by Cireco Scotland, which runs Fife Council’s household kerbside collection service and also separates out the plastics so they can be recycled, as well as by Morrisons distribution centres and stores**. One of the few local councils that currently collects and separates difficult-to-recycle plastic from its customers’ collections and sends it to a recycling centre is Fife.
Contrary to “high grade” plastics, which are more valuable and have been harvested for many years, this “low grade” soft plastic has not been widely recycled because of technological limitations that prevent it from being recycled into products that are economically feasible. As a result, it has frequently been burned, dumped in a landfill, or even shipped to other countries, frequently to those with inadequate infrastructure.
As governments all over the world press for a “green industrial revolution,” the new site represents a significant advancement for the British recycling industry. About 60 additional jobs will be generated by the facility. By 2027, the Government has required that all councils in the UK must collect soft plastic film and flexibles from every home through kerbside recycling collections. To meet these government goals, the UK would need one million tonnes of plastic packaging recycling capacity by then, according to current estimates.
The UK urgently needs more plastic recycling capacity, especially for so-called “hard-to-recycle” plastic debris like flexible food packaging, according to Omer Kutluoglu, co-owner of Yes Recycling. Our new ‘next-generation’ recycling plant, which we’ve developed over the last seven years, is intended to tackle exactly these materials. It is a road map for the future and will aid in the growth of the UK’s plastic recovery sector. It will imply that we can keep plastic out of our waters and oceans and in the “circular economy” of our own nation.
Morrisons’ Procurement Director, Jamie Winter, stated: “We’ve worked hard to decrease our plastic use, and now we want to contribute to the development of a UK infrastructure for recycling the plastic that we might still need to use. By recycling these problematic plastics here in the UK we can give them a fresh life.”
Zero Waste Scotland has been assisting local governments through the Recycling Improvement Fund, which enables councils to improve and engage in their recycling and reuse services, according to David Gunn, the fund’s manager.
“It’s wonderful to see Fife Council utilising this assistance to upgrade CIRECO’s material recycling facility, enabling homeowners to recycle soft plastic. By doing this, the local government will be much better able to handle “hard-to-recycle” plastics that would otherwise be shipped abroad.
Instead, the soft plastics that have been separated are now given to Yes Recycling to be turned into Ecosheet, turning what would have been waste into a very useful and sustainable product—a wonderful example of the circular economy in action.
“It is really thrilling to see Yes Recycling open its doors in Fife,” said Sokhna Gueye, Head of Packaging at Nestlé UK & Ireland. We made a pre-investment of £1.65million into the facility as at Nestlé we are working diligently towards our vision that none of our packaging, including plastics, winds up in landfill or as litter. Therefore, it is wonderful to see our packaging, like KitKat wrappers or Purina bags, being reused and thereby helping to create a circular economy for plastics.
Low-grade plastics like sweet wrappers, crisp packs, salad bags, and non-PET food film are accepted by the new recycling facility. All of the plastic material is washed and sorted when these materials arrive at the location. In a “closed loop,” it is then broken down and transformed into flakes and pellets that can be used to create new plastic goods. Ecosheets, which are compressed from different pellets and can be reprocessed once more, are produced.
* An ecologically friendly substitute for plywood is ecosheet. It can be used to construct stables and buildings for livestock in the agricultural sector. It lasts ten times longer than lumber, uses little energy to manufacture, and is completely recyclable after its useful life. Every year, the UK receives about 35 million sheets of plywood.
In order to establish the first “closed recycling cycle” for supermarket plastic, Morrisons is currently collecting soft plastic at all of its UK-based supermarkets. Customers can bring in their rinsed, bagged soft plastics and deposit them in collection receptacles located in the shop foyers.
“Mapping the value Chain for Flexible Plastic Packaging in the UK,” a Suez study