15 November 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Engineering review leads to Project Beacon delays

EXCLUSIVE: Zero Waste Scotland has said that delays to Project Beacon – which will see three companies form an ‘advanced plastics reprocessing facility’ in Perthshire – are down to an engineering review.

A demonstrator plant was due to be operational a year ago at the development site on the Binn Ecopark, nine miles south east of Perth. The project has financial support from Zero Waste Scotland of £1.7 million plus a further £1.7 million from the private sector.

(L-R) Scottish cabinet secretary for the environment, Roseanna Cunningham, and Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Iain Gulland at the Project Beacon site

Zero Waste Scotland told letsrecycle.com that the review is “necessary and not unusual”, and the companies behind the scheme have said the facility is on track for a 2020 launch.

Project Beacon will see three companies work together to “chemically recycle” plastics to make new material or other chemical products.

Confirming the delays, a spokesperson for Zero Waste Scotland,said: “Project Beacon brings together a number of complex and innovative technologies.

“In order to eliminate the potential for any operational delays on site a period of final design and engineering review has taken place. This review, whilst impacting upon program timescales, is necessary and not unusual in innovative engineering projects, with any technological improvements ensuring an enhanced facility in the longer term.”

The project is significant for Scottish local authorities. Zero Waste Scotland explained in 2018: “The beauty of Project Beacon is that, in the near future, councils would be able collect ‘all plastic in one bin’ at the kerbside, secure in the knowledge that the technologies and capacity exist to genuinely recycle these plastics, thus removing, the uncertainty many people feel over what plastics can and cannot be recycled at home.”

Chemical recycling

The three companies involved in the process are PI Polymer Recycling, Recycling Technologies and Impact Recycling.

Recycling Technologies are behind the ‘RT7000 machine which, says the company, turns unrecyclable plastics such as crisp packets and black plastics back into an oil which can be used in the shipping industry.

Impact Recycling was formed out of BP Chemicals and says it has over 40 years’ experience in the plastics industry.The company notes that through its research and innovation, it developed a “density separation technology” to recycle mixed polyolefins.

“This review, whilst impacting upon program timescales, is necessary and not unusual in innovative engineering projects”

Zero Waste Scotland

The company notes that through its research and innovation, it developed a “density separation technology” to recycle mixed polyolefins.

Polyolefins are generally used for things such as toys and juice cups, which Zero Waste Scotland says can be taken at the new facility.

Pi Polymer Recycling was founded by John Ferguson, director of Perthshire-based Eco ideaM. Eco Idea. On its website, the company claims to act as development partners to gear value with project partners, either as an invited party or as a project initiator.

‘On track’

Commenting on the delay, a spokesperson for Recycling Technologies said: “Our RT7000 feedstock recycling process for recycling flexible and other hard-to-recycle plastics will provide Scotland with new plastics recycling capacity.
“We are on track for a 2020 launch of our first full scale commercial RT7000; while this is a delay to earlier forecasts, our latest technology development has been essential to increase the robustness of the RT7000 and consistent quality of Plaxx. We appreciate the support of our partners at Binn Group, and Zero Waste Scotland and we look forward to being part of Project Beacon next year.”

The RT7000 unit which produces Plaxx from mixed rigid plastic

The project consists of two phases,  the first phase will aim to see the project be able to take any large rigid plastics including broken toys, crates, plastic pipe, garden furniture and drums.

In the second phase, the project will aim to be accepting all types of plastics collected at the kerbside and could strike deals with Scottish councils.

Any that can’t be sorted will become chemical feedstock for new products.

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