Jayplas film plant ‘closes UK recycling loop’ 

EXCLUSIVE: Plastics recycling specialist, Jayplas is in the final stages of building a state-of-the-art washing and pelletising plant for used film in Loughborough.

The new Jayplas washing and pelletising plant will shortly start the commissioning stage

The development – in its own building – will sit on the same site as the company’s existing wash and pellet facility, and will provide a significant boost to recycling capacity within the UK.

Jayplas was established as a plastics recycling business more than 40 years ago. Its latest development is seen as crucial at a time when, according to the company, more and more suppliers of waste plastic film are requesting that the material is not exported for reprocessing.

Managing director, Jason Young explains: “We now have a sorting and recycling infrastructure which is providing a complete closed UK recycling loop.”

Smethwick

The new Jayplas facility has a capacity of 25,000 tonnes of film per annum and this means that it will now have the capacity to wash and compound 50,000 tonnes of film in Loughborough.

It will receive waste film in bales from its existing film sorting facility at Smethwick, Birmingham which has the capacity to feed the two Loughborough waste and pellet plants and some of Jayplas’ planned future projects.

The wash plants are a key part of the plastics recycling infrastructure as contamination from paper, food, general rubbish, dirt and grit through to metals need to be removed before the film can be processed into pellets for reuse.

The Smethwick sorting plant can handle various types of film, including front of store collections of post-consumer plastic film as well as more traditional types of material. The sorting process is adjustable with more contaminated post-consumer material passing through the plant at a slightly slower pace to produce quality feedstock. At Smethwick bales are produced after the film has been sorted by colour and polymer type.

Confident

Sorting of the material within the company’s own infrastructure network means that Jayplas can be confident of the type of material received at their wash plants.

Materials taken in at the new Smethwick plant will include, for example, carrier bags, shrinkwrap from cans of beans, crisp packets, biscuit wrappers, film from multipacks of chocolate and biscuits , some food pouches and nappy bag outers. The majority of the material from front of stores is thin LDPE or PP.

The large Loughborough site is where Jayplas built its first wash and pellet plant in 2015. The first plant had a 25,000 tonne capacity and while the new plant is similar in size, it is a big step up in terms of state-of-the-art technology and environmental efficiencies. It uses less water and energy than the existing facility with a 30% increase in throughput.

At a cost of around £10 million, Jayplas says the investment sees the plant developed to its own bespoke design with the close involvement of the suppliers of the processing equipment.

There is a front-end shredder followed by various stages of washing technology including a fine filtration and purification system and then a compounding extruder. There are two wash lines feeding the main extruder making a final product produces pellet of 2.5mm in diameter. There is also provision for batch testing utilising internal silos for the pellets.

With more retailers now offering front of store collections for household film materials, Jayplas managing director Jason Young, highlights how the plant will be handling “100% UK packaging waste with 60% of this expected to be from the post-consumer route”.

End markets

The pellets can go to different end markets. Polypropylene (PP) pellets are sold into general markets and can be used for products such as bread trays and crates. LDPE pellets can be used for making products including collation shrink used in secondary packaging, bottle wraps at a 30% recycled content and stretch wrap film which typically goes around pallets, again with a 30% recycled content.

At its Worksop site, Jayplas uses much of the Loughborough output for its own production although it will be selling some of the pellets from the new plant to other UK packaging producers. Production at Worksop includes bag for Life, black sacks, recycling bags and pallet shrouds, all made with at least a 50% recycled content, with the majority of products made from 100% recycled material.

What is needed now is the legislation and even more commitment from retailers and brands

– Mike Maxwell, Jayplas

Mike Maxwell, Operations director at Jayplas, emphasises that the important aspect of the whole project is that “recycled material can replace virgin polymers which is what needs to happen. What is needed now is the legislation and even more commitment from retailers and brands.”

Funding

Looking ahead, the plant has a part to play in delivering UK solutions for the expanded producer responsibility scheme.

Behind the process is the core topic of funding. For now at least there will be a gate fee for front of store and kerbside material going into the Jayplas recycling process for processing this material is a ‘costly’ process. This links in with the fact that in the future, brand owners will have to meet the full cost of recycling packaging from the household waste stream under changes to extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations. Consequently, local authorities will be able to recover the cost of recycling film collected at the kerbside which is expected to be introducing during the current decade.

At the same time, the value of recycled pellets will increase as the material is sought out by those businesses covered by the plastic packaging tax.

So, with a commercially viable process and the growing desire to keep material in the UK for recycling, Jayplas’ hopes for this plant and further projects look likely to be met.

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