The operator of one of the worlds first food-grade PET and HDPE recycling plants has confirmed that plans to more than double its capacity will get underway in the New Year.
The Closed Loop plant located at the Thames Gateway Park, a sustainable industry site in Dagenham, East London, reprocesses up to 35,000 tonnes of plastic bottlesper year. Plans to expand the site were first revealed in January 2011(see letsrecycle.com story).
The proposed 12 million expansion will see the facility grow to handle up to an additional 70,000 tonnes of plastic per year, creating 40 jobs in the process. The investment will also allow Closed Loop to expand the sorting facilities, enabling it to be more flexible in the waste streams it is receiving.
Speaking to letsrecycle.com, Closed Loop marketing manager Nick Cliffe explained that the expansion plans have been put in place with the overall quality of product in mind.
He said: Our system at the moment is set up to handle a lower quality bale but if we expand the site here at Dagenham, we predict that we can change our operation to handle higher quality streams more easily as well.
We have acquired the site next door, and we hope to start work on the extended site in March next year, with the plan to phase in the new facilities by the start of 2013.
Mr Cliffe points to Recoup plastics recycling figures released in October (see letsrecycle.com story) that show a 90% increase in the amount of non-bottle plastics that are going through the recycling process. This, he says, is having a knock-on-effect for plastic bottle recyclers who are finding increasing levels of non-bottle plastics within the mix and are unable to process much of the material.
What we have discovered is that plastic bales available in the UK have decreased in quality, bottle content has dropped and we have fewer bottles entering our process. As a result we have to push our system really hard to get a product we can sell. Part of the problem is local authorities giving residents the green light to put mixed plastics in their recycling bins.
The planned changes to the Dagenham site will significantly increase the sorting capacity of the plant, both human and mechanised, allowing Closed Loop to increase the amount of waste that enters through the door, but also giving it a greater level of adaptability when handling waste streams of varying quality.
The new system will more than double our capacity adding around 65-70,000 tonnes per year depending on the quality of bale we are receiving. Ideally what we want to do is to be able to buy whatever material we can find and process it as efficiently as possible,” said Mr Cliffe.
And, he added: The increase in sorting capacity gives you more flexibility in the composition of bale that is received, the larger you are the more able you can cope with alterations in consistency.
The 18 million plant began operating in 2008, and has been running at close to capacity ever since, processing both polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The plant was one of the first in the world to produce food-grade recycled PET, which has been sold on to companies including Marks & Spencer and Coca Cola.