Biffa announces ‘multi-million-pound’ recycled plastic deal

Waste management company Biffa announced today (20 January) it has signed “a multi-million-pound-a-year partnership” with bottle manufacturer Esterform Packaging.

Plastic bottles being recycled at Biffa’s £27.5 million Seaham facility in County Durham

Esterform will turn 6,000 tonnes of Biffa’s recycled plastic into bottles every year at its factories in Leeds and Worcestershire.

The recycled PET plastic will originate from Biffa’s £27.5 million Seaham facility in County Durham.

The facility opened in 2020 and the waste management company says it is capable of processing more than two billion bottles a year (see letsrecycle.com story).

Chris Hanlon, Biffa’s commercial director for polymers, said: “We’re delighted to be working alongside Esterform who share our passion for creating a ‘circular economy’, a system where materials are recycled for as long as possible.

“We look forward to a long and successful partnership as we continue to work with them to grow the recycled content of their PET bottles.”

Biffa has also announced that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an agency of the European Union that provides independent scientific advice on the food chain, had this month given the plastic recycled at the Seaham food-grade status.

‘A great product’

Esterform produces plastic bottles for everything from carbonated drinks and alcohol to squash and cooking oil.

An example of the kind of bottle – in this case, a salad dressing bottle made for Asda – made by Esterform (picture: Esterform Packaging)

Describing itself as “the UK’s largest independent producer of plastic bottles”, Esterform has its head office in Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire.

Its clients include large supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Asda, alongside smaller brands such as The Ludlow Pickle Company and peanut butter label Pip & Nut.

Mark Tyne, managing director of Esterform, said: “Biffa’s recycled plastic is a great product, so we’re delighted to have secured this deal with them.

“PET is a very robust, flexible material that we use to produce containers that are light, resealable, safe and strong, and which can be recycled many times to make more new bottles in the future.”

Seaham

Last April, Biffa set itself the target of quadrupling its plastic recycling capacity by 2030 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Outside Biffa’s polymer plant in Seaham, County Durham

In today’s announcement, Biffa said EFSA’s decision to award the plastic recycled at the Seaham food-grade status “builds” on its “existing capabilities in plastics recycling”.

Biffa’s plastic recycling facilities include its plant in Redcar, Teesside, where plastic milk bottles are recycled into food-grade HDPE. Biffa claims 85% of milk bottles sold in the UK now contain its recycled plastics.

Biffa also operates a recycling plant in Washington, Sunderland, where 70 tonnes of plastic including polypropylene margarine tubs, detergent bottles, and microwave food trays are recycled every day.

The company says both these plants and the Seaham facility “capitalise” on the access to plastic from households and businesses that Biffa has through its collections and sorting activities.

Recycled content

From this year, UK packaging producers will be required to use at least 30% recycled plastic in their products to avoid the Plastic Packaging Tax (see letsrecycle.com story).

To take effect from 1 April, the tax will apply to plastic packaging manufactured in or imported into the UK where the plastic used in its manufacture is less than 30% recycled.

The tax will be set at £200 per metric tonne of plastic packaging.

This has seen some grades of recycled plastic commanding higher prices in the past year or so.

In recent times, Biffa has signed deals to supply companies including Müller UK, Nampak, and Nestlé with recycled plastic (see letsrecycle.com story).

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