Jayplas has partnered with Exeter city council to produce new polythene recycling sacks made from waste film collected by the authority in a ‘closed loop’ project.
The collected film includes household recycling sacks which have been emptied at the authority’s materials recycling facility (MRF), as well as recycling sacks from the city’s commercial waste customers.
The baled film is collected from the MRF by plastics recycling business Jayplas and taken to its film sorting plant in Smethwick, which segregates the material by polymer type and colour. The plant has been operational since October 2019 and is intended to “reduce reliance on plastic exports”.
The film sorting plant is the first part of the recycling process. Jayplas’ wash plant in Loughborough makes post-consumer recycled plastic granules by washing and compounding the sorted materials which are received from the Smethwick film sorting plant. The compounded product is then converted to bags at Jayplas’ extrusion and conversion plant and subsequently delivered back to Exeter council. Jayplas intends to open a second wash plant towards the end of the year.
The company said that it hopes this collaboration will be “the first of many” with local authorities, waste management companies and retailers.
- Waste material collected by Exeter city council for despatch to Jayplas
- Material being unloaded for treatment at Jayplas' facility
- The material is split and sorted into different polymer types
- The fully automated film sorting facility at Smethwick
- Jayplas operations director, Mike Maxwell
- The Smethwick facility can process up to 90,000 tonnes of plastic film a year
- Production of bags for Exeter
Jayplas said with the investment in sorting infrastructure, it is in a position to “move forward” by adding value by recycling the material in the UK and producing “quality recycled plastic products” from flexible packaging.
Mike Maxwell, operations director at Jayplas, said: “Exeter council are to be commended for supporting UK recycling and manufacturing. We have the skills and resource to have our own waste sorted and recycled in the UK rather than exporting the waste and importing plastic bags.”
“Exeter council are to be commended for supporting UK recycling and manufacturing”
He added: “We are members of the plastic pact and work closely with them to engage with the waste producers to get their commitment in supporting the UK circular economy and increasing our sorting and recycling infrastructure to meet with their customers aspirations and reduce the reliance on export markets which are becoming more problematic and difficult.”
Matt Hulland, resource recovery manager at Exeter city council, said: “Exeter city council are very proud to be working with Jayplas in the home grown closed loop regarding our films. It should be appreciated by consumers that not all domestic films can be recycled effectively and that not many local authorities actually will collect them from the kerbside.”
“to be able to then purchase those sacks again for use in our local community and keep that circular approach is amazing”
Mr Hulland continued: “Exeter being able to recycle films such as carrier bags and bags for life is fantastic, but to be able to then purchase those sacks again for use in our local community and keep that circular approach is amazing. It’s UK innovation and circular approaches to recycling challenging plastics which are vitally important if we are going to move forward the UK circular economy approach.”
Jayplas, as a member of the UK Plastics Pact, said the project fits in “perfectly” with the main aim of the pact, which is to create a circular economy within the UK for flexible plastic packaging.
The Exeter/Jayplas work comes against a background of flexible plastic recycling being considered one of the biggest challenges in the industry, due in part to a lack of kerbside collections and collections usually being via supermarket film banks as well as the cost-effectiveness of producing recycled material in the face of low virgin product costs.
Resources charity WRAP issued a ‘call to action’ last week, which said the UK may miss plastics pacts targets if more isn’t done to tackle flexible plastic packaging. Current targets aim to recycle 350,000 tonnes of UK post-consumer waste by 2025.