9 July 2019 by Will Date

Viridor seeks ‘stability’ in plastics reprocessing

VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: A public backlash against plastic waste has not resulted in a slowdown in the tonnage of material being recycled by householders, according to the chief plastics recycling expert at resources and waste firm Viridor.

Jez Blake, head of recycling assets (polymers) at Viridor spoke to letsrecycle.com at the company’s Polymer Recovery Facility (PRF) in Rochester, Kent, to discuss current developments in plastics recycling.

Among the topics covered were PRNs, material markets and Viridor’s investment in plastics reprocessing at a site at Avonmouth in Bristol. The full interview can be viewed in the video above.

On the topic of public perception of plastic, and whether this has had a tangible impact on collections of plastic waste, Mr Blake said: “For us we have not really seen a huge slowdown in the overall volumes of material we are getting through the door.

“Whilst we are seeing a reduction in the more problematic areas, the single-use items like straws and stirrers, the bulk of the highly recyclable plastic is still coming through thick and fast and growing every year.”

Pots, tubs and trays

During the interview Mr Blake also discussed increasing collections of non-bottle plastics such as pots, tubs and trays, which have become more common in recent years, despite concerns that some of the material is yet to be in high demand for recycling.

Inside Viridor’s Rochester PRF

He said: “Recycling of pots, tubs and trays has been on a steady increase for the last seven or eight years. A lot of it is Polypropylene and we have seen really well-established markets and that can provide value back to our local authority partners.

“Some of the materials that come out of those pots, tubs and trays recycling are still a challenge, but they are very much a work in progress, so they are less of a challenge than they were perhaps 18 months ago.

“Particularly we have seen some new developments in relation to things like black plastics, the rationalisation of wide varieties of polymers like PVC, HIPs.”

Mr Blake singled out PVC as a particular problem material for plastics recyclers. He added: “PVC is the predominant one that causes the most problems in the process. We’ve noted that over the last 18 months we got to a relatively low level but its been steadily on the increase. It is a material that is possible to recycle, but mixed in with other materials it poses a challenge.”


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