8 April 2019 by Elizabeth Slow

Hartlepool paper plant adds to Palm sorting capacity

A paper fibre sort facility in Hartlepool, being developed by Ward Recycling Ltd of Middlesbrough, is expected to open shortly.

The project adds to the sorting infrastructure for the Palm Paper newsprint mill in Norfolk which is also developing its own sorting plant alongside the mill through its wholly-owned material supplier, Palm Recycling.

Ward Recycling is shortly to open the ‘first of its kind’ paper sorting plant in Hartlepool

Ward Recycling is waiting to secure its environmental permit for the facility, with testing currently taking place.

The facility, at Windermere Road, will be dedicated to creating high quality recycled paper and will be the “first of its kind in the UK,” according to the firm.

It will sort material from local authority kerbside wheeled-bin collections containing a source separated paper and cardboard mixture, and mixed fibre from commingled collections, paper, cardboard and magazines.

Ward Recycling already operates a MRF and glass recycling plant, along with offering kerbside collections.

Palm Paper

According to Ward Recycling, the project is backed with a 10-year contract to supply the paper mill run by Palm Paper in Kings Lynn with up to 150,000 tonnes per annum of feedstock.

Built in 2010, the £550 million mill requires 550,000 tonnes of high-grade papers to make high grade print paper for the UK and Europe, said Ward Recycling.

Palm Paper’s own fibre separation plant is being built alongside the mill in King’s Lynn and will be developed on a modular basis eventually having the capacity to sort 200,000 tonnes of paper per annum (see letsrecycle.com story).

When contacted by letsrecycle.com earlier this year, a spokesperson for Palm said: “Palm Paper re-processes 500,000 tonnes per annum of deink grade material. Palm will be working with Ward Recycling to sort mixed papers through this facility in Hartlepool and does not see any issue in relation to competition.”


In December, it was announced that Ward Recycling Ltd had secured a seven-figure funding package from HSBC to develop the new sorting facility. According to HSBC, the “grand opening” was set for January.

“We noticed a real gap in the market for a high calibre paper recycling facility so, after many years of success with our glass and plastic recycling plant, we felt like it was the right time to grow our business in a new area.”

Michael Ward
Ward Recycling

Speaking at the time of the announcement, Michael Ward, owner of Ward Recycling, said: “We noticed a real gap in the market for a high calibre paper recycling facility so, after many years of success with our glass and plastic recycling plant, we felt like it was the right time to grow our business in a new area.”

Gordon Forster, area director at HSBC UK in the North East, said: “Michael has been looking at how best to serve the area’s recycling needs for many years and we’re thrilled to support what is a clear next step for Ward Recycling. It’s great that the business is creating jobs for the local economy and providing the North East with a new option for their recycling in doing so.”

According to the permit application for the Hartlepool facility, the sorting area – one of three operational areas at the plant – will house an optical sorting-based system designed to run at a maximum 30 tonnes per hour. The purpose of this stage is to remove any non-paper fibre contamination. Next, the equipment will sort the paper and cardboard into separate streams creating a low grade board and high grade paper for re-use. The final stage will involve human quality control, to remove any final unwanted materials.

The site is planned to operate 20 hours per day, 5 days per week and have some 80 traffic movements per day. The project will potentially create up to 32 new jobs.

In its non-technical summary, Ward Recycling says: “With the advent of the ban on waste paper going to Asia the UK has a demand for a sustainable solution for its waste paper. With the written word diminishing year on year it is more than imperative to recover as much as possible the high grade papers within our mixed paper fibres.

“What is also clear is that we have UK based solutions and contracts for 10 years as a minimum, which means we are not so exposed to other countries policies and have a stable solution for our materials in a volatile market.”

The Environment Agency consultation on the permit application has now closed.

Paper trial

In terms of Palm’s work in the North East, the company recently began a six-month trial with Gateshead and South Tyneside councils in February, to boost the amount of paper and cardboard for recycling (see letsrecycle.com story).

The trial involves a separate bin for only cardboard and paper including shredded paper, collected by Palm every four weeks.

For Palm, the move into sorting comes after it rejected the idea of operating a materials recycling facility to obtain paper material. By running the sorting plants it hopes to secure additional supplies of used newspapers and magazines for the plant as well other appropriate recyclable materials such as pamphlets and some leaflets.

Cardboard obtained in the sort is expected to be sent to packaging mills in the UK.


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