A recycling facility for waste plastic films is to be opened later this year in Leicestershire by waste management firm Panda, a subsidiary of the Irish Beauparc Utilities group.
Beauparc said that plant to be installed at the site in Corby, Leicestershire – which it owns through its acquisition of UK firm New Earth Solutions – will process around 10-15,000 tonnes per annum of plastic film. Investment by Panda into the plant is put at about £13 million.
The Environment Agency, said the company, is meeting today (12 February) in Corby to discuss the project with the owners at the site, who already have a permit to handle waste at the now-closed New Earth facility.
Commenting on the project, Beauparc Utilities managing director Desmond Crinion explained that the plant is financially viable, in-part because of the current low price for raw material brought on by the China waste restrictions.
He said: “China has moved extremely quickly to close its border to plastics from Europe and we must react quickly as well. The project is financially viable as the site is ready to go and because of the low price for raw material. Pellet is still worth money”.
Concerns over end-markets for plastics have arisen because of China’s ban on unprocessed post consumer plastics.
The new Leicestershire site will initially be making plastic bags, refuse sacks and bags for life which will be sold on to supermarkets and will also be producing pellets, which still hold value, said Mr Crinion.
He explained that finding a market for plastic once it has been recycled has been a problem, but a new system we can “depend on” is needed.
“That is the one thing we’re struggling with [finding a market for the material]. However, I envisage this happening more, bringing it in house and using it locally. We have been too dependent to shipping this far-east and we need to use and close the loop and this needs to be done locally. The market is in turmoil and it is a problem it can be an opportunity as well”.
Mr Crinion also added that he will be visiting China in the coming months to see if the company can get orders in place.
The chief executive of Beauparc Utilities, Eamon Waters, has pointed to regulations governing waste management in Ireland when explaining why the facility will not be built in Dublin.
Mr Waters added that the facility could take more than two years to develop in Ireland, “whereas the UK regulator has ready to go protocols in place to allow us start development”.
Mr Waters added that the company was “disappointed” not to be locating the new facility in Ireland, but also “delighted to be making this investment as a move to offer our customers a more sustainable recycling solution for plastic waste.”
He said: “Previously, as a company, we had to heavily rely on China as the only destination for plastics recycling. The new facility, which will slot in with Beauparc’s growing UK presence, will employ approximately 40 people and will process waste plastic films from both Ireland and the UK into new plastic products”.
The move continues Beauparc’s expansion into the UK. In October last year the Irish waste business PandaGreen made its second acquisition in the UK with the take-over of WSR Recycling.
The acquisition of the Cheshire-based business came a year after PandaGreen (part of the Panda Group) acquired New Earth Solutions in October 2016 (see letsrecycle.com story).