Faerch Plast UK Ltd has joined forces with three major retailers, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, as well as recycling and waste management giant, Viridor, to put recycled black plastic into new food grade packaging.
The result is a circular economy solution to a previously challenging material which will initially see 120 tonnes of black plastic (eight million items) recycled each month starting in July 2018. The volume of material will be steadily increased over the next 18 months with Viridor’s specialist plastics recycling facility at Rochester in Kent becoming a centre of excellence for the initiative.
The collaboration is evidence of the goals of the UK Plastics Pact, of which Faerch Plast was a founding signatory, being put into action to achieve the real change the public had been calling for. The Pact sets out clear UK ambitions for a more responsible and resource-efficient approach to plastics by all sectors and provides the framework for collaborative action.
Viridor’s Commercial Director Paul Ringham commented: “The project team, working together since January, has proven that black plastic from household mixed waste recycling can be recycled into high quality mixed coloured ‘jazz’ flakes to create food grade packaging.
The breakthrough took place at two Viridor facilities, the plastics recycling facility at Rochester, which is one of the most advanced optical sorting facilities in the UK, and the polymers reprocessing plant at Skelmersdale in Lancashire which takes recycled plastic and creates flakes and pellets to be used in the manufacturing process.”
From July, Viridor will start putting this material through the new process, adding black to the coloured plastic stream already recycled. The flakes and pellets will be taken to Faerch Plast’s manufacturing facility in Ely, Cambridgeshire where it will be used in new packaging solutions.
The key to the project was the collaboration across supply chain, with the retailers creating the sustained demand for the recycled material and innovative packaging provided by Faerch Plast.
Paul continued: “The project has proved a commercial process which can be extended across the UK. “The more plastic collected, the more is made available to be recycled and put back into the circular economy. In this way, we all contribute to reducing the amount of virgin plastic entering the economy.”
Andrew Osborne-Smith, Regional CEO of Faerch Plast UK & Ireland added: “This exciting initiative is another step towards enabling the plastics sector to deliver circular economy targets. Procurement of recycled materials is very important at Faerch Plast and further development of PET tray recycling is paramount to the continued success of our business. As rigid plastics packaging manufacturers, it is vital we create the demand for recyclers’ end-market.
“It has been rewarding to see the whole supply chain collaborating on this project to demonstrate that black PET trays are recyclable. However, there is more work to do to achieve high and sustainable levels of tray recycling with further investment in commercially viable waste collection systems and sorting and recycling facilities for PET pots, tubs and trays.
Faerch Plast’s Ely plant is a state of the art manufacturing operation producing recycled plastic packaging for the UK and European markets. The site extrudes its own sheet using UK sourced materials and has benefitted from a £20m investment programme over the last two years.