New contract sees 60,000 tonnes of recycled plastic returned into economy

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NEW collaboration will see Unilever receive tonnes of recycled plastic from Viridor’s £65m Avonmouth Resource Recovery Centre near Bristol.

The companies, both founding members of the UK Plastics Pact, have agreed an initial five-year contract for recycled plastic from the plant which is powered by non-recyclable waste through Viridor’s new £252m Avonmouth Energy Recovery Facility.

Keith Trower, Viridor Resource Management Managing Director, said: “Viridor and Unilever are committed to helping the UK achieve its recycling and sustainability targets and this contract demonstrates how we are translating that ambition in action.

“To do this in a meaningful way Viridor has acknowledged the UK plastic reprocessing capacity gap and our Avonmouth investment is our response to that market demand.

“By putting more recycled plastic back into the economy, and powering that process with non-recyclable waste, we are creating a sustainable solution and ensuring consumer brands, such as Unilever, have access to quality post-consumer recycled material.

“Crucially, this contract also recognises the relationship between UK Plastics Pact partners and how such collaboration is vital if we are to achieve closed loop recycling solutions and achieve the Pact’s goals of 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging by 2025.”

Viridor and Unilever have previously worked together with Nextek Ltd on detectable black plastic packaging for Unilever’s TRESemmé and Lynx personal care brands with trials carried out at Viridor’s Rochester Polymers Recycling Facility in Kent.

In its first year Avonmouth will produce 60KTPA of recycled plastic a year from 81KTPA feedstock, estimated to be rising to 89KTPA in year three, producing 63KTPA of recycled material.

The Viridor project will put 60,000 tonnes of recycled plastic from bottles, pots, tubs and trays in PET, HDPE and PP flake and pellet form back in the economy every year as an alternative to virgin plastic.

It will be powered by diverting 320,000 tonnes of waste from landfill and generating 282GWh of electricity – the equivalent energy used to power around 77,000 homes.

According to Viridor MD Phil Piddington, the Avonmouth plant was a crucial part of the company’s circular economy commitments and an important next step in its plastic recycling strategy.

“The unique design of the site – incorporating sophisticated energy recovery and recycling technology –  allows for the transfer of power and heat to serve the recycling and reprocessing site, creating a truly resource and energy-efficient waste management solution.

“Reprocessed plastic uses 50% less electricity than virgin plastic, which is already a very persuasive argument in favour of recycled materials. When we reduce our energy consumption further by tapping in to the low carbon power created through energy recovery, we can achieve even greater sustainability and environmental efficiency.”