Technological watch

UKRI Invests Millions in Plastic Recycling Plants to Reduce Waste in Landfills

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is investing £20 million in four cutting edge recycling plants to reduce landfill and incineration, and expand the range of plastics being recycled.
Largest Investment in Plastic Recycling
The £20 million investment from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, along with over £65 million of industry investment, represents the largest investment the UK has made in plastic packaging recycling technologies.
These plants will increase the available recycling capacity in the UK reducing the amount being sent to landfill, incineration, or exported overseas for disposal.
The technologies include a hydrothermal liquefaction process to convert waste plastic into chemicals and oils for use in the manufacture of new plastic, a thermal cracking procedure to transform end-of-life plastics into hydrocarbon oil that can be used in plastic production, and a depolymerizing facility that extracts color from waste allowing easier reuse.
List of Funded Projects
ReNew ELP: ReNew ELP proposes to set up a plant centered on a catalytic hydrothermal reactor (Cat-HTR™) at Wilton, Teesside.
Once up and running, the plant would convert 20,000 tons per annum (tpa) (increasing to 80,000tpa on site completion) of end of life plastic into chemicals and oils for use in the production of new virgin grade plastics including naphtha, waxes, and a bitumen-like residue suitable for use in road construction.
Recycling Technologies: Recycling Technologies has been awarded funding for a chemical recycling plant that uses thermal cracking to recycle a wide range of plastic waste that cannot be recycled by conventional methods.
The plant is designed to process 7,000tpa of hard-to-recycle mixed plastic waste, producing 5,200tpa of a hydrocarbon oil which can replace crude oil in plastics production – allowing plastic to be recycled an unlimited number of times. It will be based in Perth, Scotland.
With partners, Neste Corporation and Unilever, this project combines the expertise of these three global leaders in their respective business areas to develop chemical recycling and make hard-to-recycle plastic packaging, such as films, sachets and pouches, recyclable.
Poseidon Plastics: Poseidon Plastics aims to commercialize its novel enhanced recycling technology through the construction of a 10,000 ton per annum polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling facility.
Partnering with waste collection and mechanical recycling experts Biffa and PET resin producers Alpek Polyester UK and DuPont Teijin Films UK, this project aims to demonstrate how , film and other hard-to recycle PET wastes can be chemically recycled back into new consumer end-use goods.
Through collaboration with the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York and polyester fiber users O’Neills Irish International Sports Company and GRN Sportswear (Presca), the consortium further aims to demonstrate and optimize a closed-loop, circular economy for all polyester materials.
Veolia: Veolia in collaboration with Unilever, Charpak Ltd and HSSMI will develop the UK’s first dual PET bottle and tray recycling facility (supported by a digital twin created by HSSMI), capable of recycling 100% of clear rigid PET in a closed-loop system.
Unilever will investigate the non-food contact recycled PET produced from this facility in its home and personal care range, so avoiding the use of food contact grade material in these non-food products.
Charpak Ltd will use the flakes produced in its trays, making tray to tray recycling a reality.
This will create a new, complementary non-food closed loop for recycled PET and widen availability of the material for use in bottles and trays.
Through the development and use of the digital twin, HSSMI will pioneer a virtual engineering approach in the waste industry, which will help optimize the facility and identify potential commercial challenges.
If initial trials are successful, the proposed facility would process 35,000tpa of mixed PET packaging waste at an existing Veolia site.
Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge
The funding forms part of UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) challenge, which aims to increase the amount of recyclable plastic packaging and improve UK productivity in plastics, leading to a reduction in plastic waste entering the environment.
Paul Davidson, Challenge Director of the SSPP challenge, said, “To help protect the planet from waste pollution it is critical that plastics are more readily recycled and sustainable. The plastic packaging industry is changing, to become more responsive to our environmentally conscious concerns.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said, “The government is committed to both clamping down on the unacceptable plastic waste that harms our environment and ensuring more materials can be reused instead of being thrown away.”

Publication date: 30/10/2020

Omnexus (news)

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31