Plastic recycling facility to open in Durham in summer 2024

Impact: Nestlé provides £7m loan to support launch of UK plastic recycling plant

Impact Recycling will open a plastic recycling facility in Durham next year – and it was announced this week that Nestlé UK & Ireland has loaned £7 million to get the plant up and running by the summer.

The site will process hard-to-recycle flexible plastics, typically used in food packaging, into pellets which can be used to make new products such as postbags and refuse bags. Green Retail World revealed earlier this year that Waitrose’s in-store plastic collection scheme will be linked to the facilities at Impact.

The north-east England project has also received a grant from Innovate UK to support what is an innovative process, known as ‘Baffled Oscillation Separation System’ or BOSS, which sorts the waste plastics by spinning them in water. This process means different materials either sink or float, depending on their density. This makes it easier to separate the correct materials for plastic recycling.

Nestlé, which earlier this month along with Coca Cola and Danone was hit with legal action about alleged use of misleading ‘100% recyclable’ and ‘100% recycled’ claims on plastic water bottles sold across Europe, said the Durham facility will be able to manage more than the amount of flexible plastic its UK and Ireland arm places on the market.

Against the backdrop of the legal complaint to the European Commission from the Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs – supported by campaign group Client Earth and the Environmental Coalition on Standards – the commitment to soft plastic recycling is a welcome positive move for a company that has said it is committed to significantly reducing the amount of virgin plastic is uses in its products.

KitKat wrappers, Purina pet food pouches, Rowntree confectionery sharing bags and Nestlé Cereal bags will be among the items that can be collected from major supermarket collection points for recycling at Impact.

Sokhna Gueye, head of packaging at Nestlé UK & Ireland, commented: “I am thrilled to be joining forces with Impact Recycling and helping fund this new plant in Durham.

“At Nestlé, we are dedicated to ensuring our packaging can have multiple lives and doesn’t end up as waste in landfill. Supporting innovative technologies like this is just one of the many steps we are taking towards achieving this goal.”

She added: “In the UK and Ireland, our efforts continue at pace to ensure as close to 100% of our packaging is designed for recycling by 2025, and we continue to work towards all of our packaging being recyclable or reusable. It is fantastic to see our packaging given a second life, and we are looking at many partnerships to help encourage the collection and recycling infrastructure in the UK.”

David Walsh, CEO of Impact Recycling, remarked: “We are delighted to partner with Nestlé on this initiative to develop a 25,000-tonne commercial recycling plant for post-consumer flexible plastic. Without the funding from Nestlé this development would not have been possible.”

Paul Davidson, Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge director at Innovate UK, added: “We’re delighted to be supporting this project, driving innovation to increase the UK’s capacity to recycle flexible plastic packaging is a priority area for the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge and this facility is a great step towards the UK meeting its Plastic Pact targets.”

Despite the clear potential and positive projections around Impact’s site in Durham, the recycling industry will watch with some element of caution following the collapse into administration of Yes Recycling in Scotland earlier this year.

In January, Nestlé UK & Ireland became the site’s first investor, providing a pre-investment of £1.65 million – managed by Ecosurety – towards the development of the Dunfermline facility. Morrisons also had a stake in the business, which fell into administration in April and is currently in the hands of administrators at Grant Thornton.

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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