The plant, at Newhouse, is capable of recycling 200,000 tonnes of glass per year, and is one of three such facilities in the world according to the waste management company.
Glass recycling operations are to continue for six months more at Viridor’s existing Bonnyrigg facility south east of Edinburgh, after which the site is to be converted into a materials recycling facility (MRF).
Viridor will process glass from 17 Scottish local authorities at Newhouse, as well as from its MRFs based around the whole of the UK. Additional tonnages are expected from other councils in Scotland in the coming months.
Almost double the capacity of Bonnyrigg, Newhouse has been designed to reduce Scotland’s reliance on imported cullet for making whisky and beverage bottles by ensuring all recycled packaging glass is fit for use.
According to Viridor, Newhouse will recover up to 97% of input materials – achieving up to 99% product purity and exceeding the quality requirements for product packaging.
The 70,000 square foot facility has been constructed adjacent to the M8 Motorway on a seven hectare site and has created 30 full-time jobs.
It houses some 15 scientific eye optical sorters, x-ray sorters, over 500 metres of conveyer belts and 2.5km of electrical cabling across three floors of processing towers.
Viridor, which was initially due to open the plant in autumn 2014, has expanded its glass operation as part of a £357 million investment in recycling and renewable energy infrastructure in Scotland over the past two years (see letsrecycle.com story).
The facility is also designed to boost the Scottish Government’s warm homes objectives through a partnership with insulation provider Superglass in Stirling.
Opening the plant at Newhouse, Mr Lochhead said advanced glass recycling would be mean a boost for the environmental and economic credentials of Scottish food and drink manufacturers.
He said: “I welcome this significant investment in modern recycling infrastructure. Glass packaging is important to a number of Scottish food and drinks manufacturers and glass recycling makes sense for our economy and the environment.
“I recently launched the Scottish Government’s consultation on taking steps to create a more circular economy in Scotland. In a world of finite resources, where global populations and consumption growth are driving increased volatility and vulnerability in the supply of raw materials, the circular economy offers a new and exciting perspective.
“Recycling is just a part of that. A more circular economy will conserve our finite resources, help support jobs in our communities, and improve our quality of life.”
Ian McAulay, chief executive at Viridor, added “Newhouse brings the UK’s most advanced glass recycling centre home to the central belt and places Scotland at the leading edge of global glass recycling.
“A vital key in unlocking Scottish Government circular economy policy, this latest investment will not only help drive glass recycling and the sustainability of Scotch whisky, but will be a real boost for a Lanarkshire economy fast becoming an important base for Scotland’s green sectors.”