While Eurokey told letsrecycle.com the exact recycling process was “commercially sensitive”, the company says the 75,000 square foot facility is to be developed specifically to recover films and flexible plastics from the grocery and retail sectors.
Eurokey expects the facility to be operational next summer. Once open, the plant will be capable of processing more than 70,000 tonnes a year of supermarket films and flexible plastics returned by customers, the company said, and will create between 40 and 50 jobs in the area.
John Dhillon, managing director at Eurokey, said in a statement: “This ground-breaking UK solution has been in development for the past three years, which has been expedited now that we are part of the Reconomy Group.
“It will undoubtedly have a hugely influential role in enabling the UK to better manage its plastic waste, realising both its commercial and environmental value and reducing our reliance on export.
“We see this as only the start though and have a number of other exciting projects in the pipeline to further bolster UK recycling infrastructure.”
Eurokey said the Environment Agency was “in the process of confirming” permits for the facility.
Using an automated process, the facility will recycle ‘back-of-store’ film and rigid plastics made from polymers such as PET, HDPE, LDPE, Eurokey said.
The company said the material, which will include packaging from bakery and confectionery products, bags from prepared salad and food trays, would come from supermarkets including Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
In June, Sainsbury’s rolled out a flexible plastic recycling scheme to 520 stores nationwide (see letsrecycle.com story). Tesco followed suit in August, announcing the roll-out of soft plastic collection points at every one of its “large” stores in the UK (see letsrecycle.com story).
Sainsbury’s and Tesco launched their schemes after resources charity WRAP called on more supermarkets to collect all types of plastic bags and wrapping for sorting and recycling in May (see letsrecycle.com story).
Based in Leicester and founded in 1995, Eurokey provides commodity trading and reprocessing services to commercial customers in the UK and internationally.
This investment forms a vital part of the Reconomy Group’s exciting growth strategy
– Paul Cox, CEO of Reconomy
The company was acquired by the Reconomy Group for an undisclosed sum in March (see letsrecycle.com story).
Paul Cox, Reconomy’s CEO, said: “This investment forms a vital part of the Reconomy Group’s exciting growth strategy and demonstrates our commitment to being a leading enabler in the development of the circular economy.
“Building infrastructure to recover more of these under-recycled resources is another example of us working to meet the challenges faced by our customers.
“In doing so, we are helping them to build more commercially and environmentally sustainable businesses for the future.”
Eurokey also said it had recently invested more than £5 million in a new facility in Goleniow, Poland, enabling the company to continue to service the material reprocessing requirements of its European client base.
The company said it had conducted “several trials” of soft plastics recycling in Poland, though the volume of this material is “not significant at the moment”.