The co-owned Morrisons and Yes Recycling soft plastics processing site in Fife has now opened.
The recycling facility, which also received investment from Nestle UK & Ireland in 2021, will process a mix of plastics, including film and sweet wrappers, into reusable materials.
Morrisons is collecting soft plastic in dedicated bins at all of its UK supermarkets and sending it to the new facility, as is Cireco Scotland – the operator of Fife Council’s household kerbside collection service – which is one of very few local authorities to separate the difficult-to-recycle material at curbside.
Inside the plant is patented technology, developed over the last seven years, that can turn hard-to-recycle flexible food packaging such as crisp packets and film into flakes, pellets and new ‘ecosheet’ which can then be used as a plywood alternative in – for example – the construction and agriculture industries.
At full capacity, the Fife site, which has also been supported by Zero Waste Scotland, is expected to recycle 15,000 tonnes of post-consumer plastic packaging a year.
Last week, Green Retail World revealed that Morrisons’ competitor Waitrose has now rolled out in-store soft plastic collection in its stores across the UK, with the retailer committing to working with a partner – Impact Recycling – that promises not to export plastic recycling, but instead process it in a soon-to-built facility near Glasgow.
Morrisons and Yes Recycling view their work as contributing to create a greater plastics recycling infrastructure in the UK, keeping the material in a ‘closed loop’ situation and stopping it from being exported overseas.
Omer Kutluoglu, co-owner of Yes Recycling, said: “The UK is in desperate need of more plastic recycling capacity and, in particular, for the so-called hard-to-recycle plastic waste such as flexible food packaging.
“Our new next-generation recycling plant, which we’ve developed over the last seven years, is designed to tackle exactly these materials. It is a blueprint for the future and will help to kick-start the UK’s plastics recycling industry. It will mean we can keep plastic in our own country’s circular economy and out of our seas and oceans.”
Jamie Winter, procurement director at Morrisons, added: “We’ve done a significant amount of work to reduce our plastic use and now we want to help build a UK infrastructure to recycle the plastic that we may still need to use.
“By recycling these problematic plastics here in the UK we can give them a new life.”
David Gunn, Zero Waste Scotland’s recycling improvement fund manager, called Ecosheet “a highly useful and sustainable product” and “a fantastic example of a circular economy at work”.
[Image credit: Chris WR Cox photography for Hubbub]