Viridor to build Avonmouth plastics reprocessing plant

Viridor has today (30 May) announced plans to develop an 80,000 tonnes-per-year capacity plastics recycling plant, processing plastics from bottles and pots, tubs and trays (PTT).

Viridor will process around 80,000 tonnes of plastic bottles and PTT at the Avonmouth site

Due to come online in 2020/21, it will be built adjacent to the company’s Avonmouth energy from waste plant which is under construction at the site near Bristol. Electricity from the EfW plant will power the plastics facility.

Viridor will process around 80,000 tonnes of plastic bottles and PTT at the Avonmouth site

Viridor’s parent company Pennon today said that the plastics facility will process a total of 81,000 tonnes of PET and HDPE bottles, and PP pots tubs and trays in its first year, rising to 89,000 tonnes in year three.

In total it is expected that the plant will produce around 63,000 tonnes of recycled material per annum. Products will include rPET, rHDPE and rPP in flake and pellet form.

Investment

The plant constitutes a £65 million investment, and Viridor says it has already secured three quarters of the inputs needed, as well as having agreements for around half of the recycled polymer offtake.

The new facility will add to Viridor’s plastics facilities. It has a plastic bottle recycling plant at Skelmersdale, which processes up to 36,000 tonnes of material per year, as well as a sorting facility at Rochester, which is capable of sorting up to 95,000 tonnes per year of bottles and PTT.

It is anticipated that demand for recycled polymers will rise as requirements for recycled content in new packaging come into effect in coming years, and Pennon has cited the ‘Blue Planet effect’ as having spurred an interest in recycled polymer feedstock. The company was an early member of the Michael Gove-endorsed Plastics Pact.

“Unless action is taken now and investment in infrastructure is made, a plastic recycling capacity gap will undermine UK ambitions and the sustainability targets of retailers and the big consumer brands. We are, therefore, delighted to be leading the way.”


Chris Loughlin
Pennon

Commenting on the project, Pennon’s chief executive, Chris Loughlin, said: “Pennon is dedicated to working in ever-more sustainable ways and we are extremely excited to be announcing this first-of-its-kind investment in plastics recycling. By using waste which cannot be recycled as the fuel to create low carbon electricity which will power plastics recycling we are creating a truly resource and energy-efficient waste management solution.

“There is a clear ambition from both UK consumers and politicians to improve recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste which is sent to export. Our research shows that 80% of people believe the UK should find a way to deal with its own recycling without having to ship it to other countries.

“Unless action is taken now and investment in infrastructure is made, a plastic recycling capacity gap will undermine UK ambitions and the sustainability targets of retailers and the big consumer brands. We are, therefore, delighted to be leading the way.”

Annual results

Announcement of the new facility came alongside the release of Pennon’s full year results for 2018/19, in which Viridor was reported to have seen an 8.5% increase in revenue to £852.7 million, as well as a 19.1% increase in earnings to £178.9 million for the year.

The Avonmouth ERF is moving closer to completion

In particular, this was buoyed by an increase in earnings from Viridor’s energy from waste operations – up 25% to £154.8 million – boosted by the delivery of its Glasgow, Dunbar and Beddington facilities.

On the recycling side of the business, earnings saw a £0.1 million drop from the previous year to £14.9 million, and Pennon said that Viridor’s focus continues to be on the production of ‘higher quality and value recyclates’ through its maintenance programme ‘WorkSmart’

The company reported that whilst recyclate volumes traded had decreased year on year, margins had increased by over £1 per tonne reflecting recovery in the global recycling markets for “high quality recyclate”.

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