Biffa shuts Grangemouth plastics site for DRS revamp

Biffa is revamping its plastics sorting plant in Grangemouth, Scotland, to ensure it can cope with the surge of material expected once Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) comes into force on 16 August 2023.

A counting centre is to be built at Biffa's Grangemouth site ahead of Scotland's DRS coming into force (picture: CK International)

Consequently, the company has closed the site on the Abbotsinch industrial estate to allow the improvement work to get underway.

In 2021, Biffa bought the long-established plastics recovery business Green Circle Polymers, based on the Abbotsinch site, for £10 million.

In July this year, Biffa announced that it had secured a 10-year contract to provide logistics, sorting and counting services for the Scottish DRS (see letsrecycle.com story). The former Green Circle premises are now to be upgraded.

Grangemouth remains a core element of our recycling infrastructure

A Biffa spokesperson explained: “Grangemouth remains a core element of our recycling infrastructure in Scotland.

“The site has closed for investment to enhance its capabilities for future legislative change, including the introduction of Scotland’s deposit return scheme.”

Cans

The work at the site is expected to see the upgrading of sorting lines along with technology to help ensure careful monitoring of the DRS material. Cans are also expected to be sorted at the site.

Biffa has not disclosed whether glass bottles will be handled at Grangemouth. Unlike England, the Scottish DRS will cover glass bottles, whereas in England these have been excluded, although the final plans for the English DRS are still to be published.

The video from CK International below shows various machinery at the Grangemouth facility in a video posted in 2019.

Capability boost

Last year, Biffa said the Grangemouth facility was “one of the largest PRFs in the UK and every year processes around 50,000 tonnes of plastics such as mixed plastic bottles and plastic tubs and trays so that they can be used to create new recycled plastic material.”

Biffa said the acquisition of Green Circle Polymers “bolstered” its “market-leading” plastics recycling capability by providing more recyclable plastic feedstock, in line with the company’s strategy to quadruple its plastic recycling capacity by 2030.

It is not known whether the plant will take some early DRS material later this year. According to the Scottish organisation Zero Waste Scotland, DRS infrastructure, such as reverse vending machines, will start rolling out “in earnest from summer 2022 and, where possible, the Scottish Government will work with retailers to enable use of this infrastructure on a voluntary basis from November 2022.”

Biffa also has mixed plastic bottle sorting facilities in Wigan (North West) and Aldridge (West Midlands) with plants too in north east England.

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