UK gets plastic bottle recycling plant

The UK’s first plant to recycle plastics into material for food packaging will open in December, it was confirmed in March.

The plant will be capable of recycling 35,000 tonnes of plastic water, soft drinks and cosmetics bottles each year.

The Dagenham-based plant, operated by Closed Loop London (CLL), will recycle polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.

About 510,000 tonnes of mixed plastic bottles enters the UK household waste stream each year. Local authorities collect some 100,000 tonnes for recycling, just under half of which is PET, according to the government’s Waste and Resources Action Programme.

Demand for food-grade recycled PET (rPET) from UK suppliers and retailers is about 60,000 tonnes, WRAP says. But 75-80% of collected plastic bottles are exported for reprocessing, while 12,000-13,000 tonnes of rPET is imported into the UK each year.

Marks and Spencer will send PET waste from its London stores to the plant and encourage its suppliers to use its rPET in packaging. However, CCL has yet to sign contracts with any retailers or manufacturers.

The project received £12 million in private and public funding including funds from the London Development Agency and WRAP.