The investment will increase the amount of HDPE milk bottles that the plant can take in for sorting from its current level of around 15,000 tonnes per year to close to 30,000 tonnes, whilst also increasing the output of recycled HDPE from 10,000 to 20,000 tonnes per year.
Output material from the Redcar plant is used to manufacture new milk bottles as well as HDPE trays for food, while the material can also be used in the production of cosmetics packaging.
The current sorting and production line, which was installed in 2009, consists of a series of Titech sorting units, as well as a Vacurema extruder which is capable of producing HDPE pellets of a suitable quality for uses in food applications.
“The creation of a new rHDPE line at our Redcar plant will put capacity back into the market to meet the growing demand that we are seeing, which is particularly important given recent events in the plastics recycling industry.”
Biffa Polymers has stated that the new line will see material go through a similar process to the existing system, albeit with more up-to-date machinery.
The new line is expected to be operational in early 2017.
Chris Hanlon, commercial director at Biffa Polymers said: “The creation of a new rHDPE line at our Redcar plant will put capacity back into the market to meet the growing demand that we are seeing, which is particularly important given recent events in the plastics recycling industry.
“Enabling us to double our output, this investment in our facilities and the additional infrastructure it provides will also mean that more scrap plastic generated by UK households can be processed here in the UK rather than being sent abroad for processing.
“We remain committed to continued investment and improvement in our facilities and our expert team are open to exploring possible growth strategies that will enable us to enhance our offering and increase our processing capacity further in future.”
The bulk of the feedstock for the plant comes from Biffa’s network of materials recycling facilities (MRFs) around the UK. The Redcar site also process mixed-plastic polypropylene waste.
The investment by Biffa is a significant boost for plastic milk bottle recycling in the UK, following the closure of Euro Closed Loop Recycling’s Dagenham plant last summer (see letsrecycle.com story).
The Dagenham plant took in as much as 35,000 tonnes of material per year, much of which has been diverted to overseas markets since the closure of the facility. During the period since Closed Loop’s closure, the value of natural HDPE scrap has fallen from over £400 per tonne, to closer to £300, reflecting the loss of demand within the market.