Online electrical retailer AO, through its recycling arm AO Recycling, is to open a recycling facility for WEEE plastics located close to its existing fridge plant at Telford.
AO says that the new four-acre site will allow it to “clean and refine” the plastic it collects from its main fridge recycling facility, which can process up to 700,000 units per year. The new facility is expected to create around 100 jobs.
Fridges typically contain plastics such as ABS, polystyrene and polypropylene, which if correctly processed can be used in the production of parts in the automotive sector, or new electrical goods. While AO achieves high recycling rates for much of the fridge content, plastics has remained a difficult market and the investment is securing an important route to new markets for the plastics content.
Robert Sant, managing director of AO Recycling, said of the new plant: “The investment was the next natural step in our recycling journey to create a closed-loop process. One of the big hurdles in reuse is producing a plastic that can be used effectively again in another products. Therefore, we have created a plant that can clean and refine to the highest possible standards.
“The aim of our recycling process has always been to get the most out of the old white goods we collect so our customers know that when they are giving us their old fridges, they are doing the best they possibly can for the environment.”
The company is also investing in a second fridge plant, which will be built in the South East of England and is expected to open in spring 2020. With the opening the second facility, AO predicts that it will have capacity to process around 40% of the fridges collected in the UK.
Its flagship plant at Telford also process washing machines, dishwashers, tumble driers and other large household electrical waste.
Establishment of the plant was part of a bid by the company to shift the emphasis in UK WEEE recycling to retailer take-back.
The facility features an 80-tonne shredder built by Austrian firm Andritz, which smashes fridges to their constituent metals, plastics and insulation foam using heavy duty rotating steel chains which operate inside a sealed chamber. The materials and gases are captured for reuse and recycling.