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Morrisons-owned soft plastics plant opens in Fife

Yes Recycling’s soft plastics recycling facility in Fife, which supermarket chain Morrisons owns a “significant stake” in, has today (28 February) opened its doors.

Morrisons plastic recycling
Morrisons will send soft plastics from its stores to the facility as part of a 'closed loop process'

The 15,000 tonnes per year capacity plant will reprocess soft plastics using a “patented technology developed over the last seven years,” Morrisons explained.

The new recycling plant takes low grade plastics including sweet wrappers, crisp packets, salad bags, and non-PET food film. Morrisons said that when these materials enter the site, all of the plastic material is washed and sorted. It is then broken down and turned into flakes and pellets which can be used to make new plastic products.

Other pellets are compressed into Ecosheet, which Morrisons describes as an “environmentally friendly alternative to plywood”, which can be used in construction and agriculture industries.

Material collected in-store by Morrisons will be sent to its distribution centre in Bellshill before being sent to the plant.

Some local authority film will also be sent to the facility. Fife council last year recently invested £470,000 in a machine enabling it to separate film at its MRFs, with a view to sending it to the Yes Recycling plant (see letsrecycle.com story).

The plant however is more than a year late. When Morrisons first announced it had acquired a stake in the facility in 2021, it pledged to have the facility open by the end of that year (see letsrecycle.com story).

Capacity

Jamie Winter, procurement director at Morrisons, said: “We’ve done a significant amount of work to reduce our plastic use and now we want to help build a UK infrastructure to recycle the plastic that we may still need to use. By recycling these problematic plastics here in the UK we can give them a new life.”

Morrisons recycling
An aerial view of Yes Recycling’s flexible plastics recycling plant in Fife

According to Morrisons, the Fife site is the first of its type in the world. It is co-owned and being constructed by recycling plant specialists Yes Recycling.

A number of other organisations including Nestlé UK & Ireland and Zero Waste Scotland, have also been involved in the development.

Nestlé made a pre-investment of £1.65million into the plant, saying it “is fantastic to see our packaging such as KitKat wrappers or Purina pouches given a second life, thus contributing to building a circular economy for plastics.”

The hard-to-recycle soft plastic – including chocolate wrappers, crisp packets and food film – will be sent to the site from Morrisons distribution sites and stores and by Cireco Scotland, which operates Fife Council’s household kerbside collection service and who also separate out the plastics ready for recycling.

‘Next generation’

Omer Kutluoglu, co-owner of Yes Recycling, said: “The UK is in desperate need of more plastic recycling capacity and, in particular, for the so-called ‘hard-to-recycle’ plastic waste such as flexible food packaging.

“Our new ‘next-generation’ recycling plant, which we’ve developed over the last seven years, is designed to tackle exactly these materials. It is a blueprint for the future and will help to kick-start the UK’s plastics recycling industry. It will mean we can keep plastic in our own country’s ‘circular economy’ and out of our seas and oceans.”

Jobs

Around 60 new jobs will be created by the plant, according to Yes Recycling.

It will also arrive four years ahead of the planned 2027 date for when councils will be mandated to collect soft plastic film and flexibles from the kerbside.

Other organisations / investors involved in the development of the site include:

  • Morrisons
  • Nestle UK & Ireland
  • Cireco
  • Zero Waste Scotland
  • Triodos Bank
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • Lloyds Bank
  • Fife Council
  • Scottish Development International
  • Business Gateway Fife
  • Ecosurety

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