Struggling plastic bottle recycling firm ECO Plastics has been acquired by pan-European investor Aurelius, it was announced this morning (December 12).
However, as a result of the acquisition, Coca Cola Enterprises (CCE) has “decided not to continue” with its ‘Continuum Recycling’ joint venture with ECO Plastics, with CCE instead entering into a “long-term agreement” to source recycled PET from the company.
Aurelius – which has offices in Munich, London, Stockholm and Madrid – said it would supply both financial support and “highly specialised operational improvement capabilities” to ECO Plastics’ current operations, with a “core focus” on the long-term strategic development of the business.
Investor Aurelius has a total of over 60 company acquisitions and said that it had acquired ECO Plastics “in line with its standard investment approach”, but has not disclosed the terms of the deal.
The company’s previous acquisitions in the plastics sector include Wellman International, described as Europe’s largest recycler of PET bottles as well as being a producer of Polyester staple fibre products.
ECO Plastics, which is capable of sorting around 150,000 tonnes-per-year of waste plastic bottles at its Hemswell bottle recycling plant in Lincolnshire, had been seeking a buyer after being affected by a downturn in the PET market, which has seen the value of rPET – the plant’s primary product – tumble (see letsrecycle.com story).
Aurelius described the Hemswell plant, which processes around 35% of the total UK bottle collection in the UK every year, as one of the world’s “largest and most sophisticated plastic reprocessing plants” and praised ECO Plastics’ rPET product for “delivering value to local authorities and the waste management industry through feedstock contracting”.
Managing director of Aurelius in London, Tristan Nagler, said the firm was “delighted” with the acquisition of ECO Plastics, which has a “strong position in the UK marketplace”.
He said: “For customers, suppliers and partners it will be business as usual, and we are committed to working with the company to deliver long term, sustainable growth. Aurelius has a strong track record in the industrials sector, providing both operational improvement as well as financial support to businesses. We are extremely excited about the future prospects of this business.”
"As part of the financial agreement, Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd has agreed not to continue with the joint venture, Continuum Recycling. In return, CCE has entered into a long-term agreement to source recycled PET from Eco Plastics"
ECO Plastics’ founder and deputy chairman, Jonathan Short, also welcomed the acquisition as a “vote of confidence” in both the future of the firm and in the UK recycling sector.
Mr Short continued: “Working with Aurelius will take the ECO Plastics story to the next level. This new owner will not only bring in new expertise and financial resources, but also a shared commitment to the development of a more sustainable, circular economy in the UK.”
Chief executive of ECO Plastics, Chris Brown, added: “We are looking forward to working closely with Aurelius as we enter this new chapter of the ECO Plastics story. Their involvement will bring significant operational expertise and financial support that will move the world’s largest and most sophisticated plastics reprocessing plant to another level, building on its position at the forefront of the UK’s plastics recycling sector.”
ECO Plastics has had investment in its £15 million sorting and wash plant from both the Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP) and also Coca Cola Enterprises (CCE), as part of the joint venture ‘Continuum Recycling’ to supply Coca Cola with the recycled plastic needed to meet its pledge to include 25% of the recycled plastics in its bottles.
The acquisition has been welcomed by CCE, with a spokesperson for the drinks manufacturer commenting today: “We are pleased that ECO Plastics has found a buyer to support the next stage in the development of the UK’s most important supplier of food-grade recycled PET.
“As part of the financial agreement, Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd has agreed not to continue with the joint venture, Continuum Recycling. In return, CCE has entered into a long-term agreement to source recycled PET from Eco Plastics.
The spokesperson added: “This new arrangement will ensure that CCE continues to use a minimum of 25% rPET in our plastic bottles in Great Britain, allowing us to deliver on our commitments to set the standard for sustainable packaging.”