UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has invested £20m in projects with new technologies for plastics recycling.
The money comes from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and, along with some £65m of industry investment, represents the largest investment the UK has made in plastic packaging recycling technologies.
Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “The Government is committed to both clamping down on the unacceptable plastic waste that harms our environment and ensuring more materials can be reused instead of being thrown away.
“By investing in these truly ground-breaking technologies, we will help to drive these efforts even further, and I look forward to seeing them develop and deliver real results.”
The projects are:
Veolia in collaboration with Unilever, Charpak and HSSMI will develop the UK’s first dual PET bottle and tray recycling facility, capable of recycling 100% of clear rigid PET in a closed-loop system.
Unilever will investigate the non-food contact recycled PET produced from this facility in its home and personal care ranges, while Charpak will use the flakes produced in its trays. It said this would create a new, complementary non-food closed loop for recycled PET. HSSMI will pioneer a virtual engineering approach in the waste industry, which will help to optimise the facility and identify potential commercial challenges.
If initial trials are successful, the proposed facility would process 35,000 tonnes a year of mixed PET packaging waste at an existing Veolia site.
ReNew ELP proposes to set up a plant centred on a catalytic hydrothermal reactor (Cat-HTR) at Wilton, Teesside (pictured). Once running, the plant would convert 20,000 tonnes a year (increasing to 80,000 tonnes on site completion) of end-of-life plastic into chemicals and oils for use in the production of new virgin-grade plastics, including naphtha, waxes and a bitumen-like residue suitable for use in road construction.
Recycling Technologies has been awarded funding for a chemical recycling plant that uses thermal cracking to recycle a wide range of plastic waste that cannot be recycled by conventional methods. The plant is designed to process 7,000 tonnes a year of hard-to-recycle mixed plastic waste, producing 5,200 tonnes a year of a hydrocarbon oil which can replace crude oil in plastics production.
Poseidon Plastics aims to commercialise its enhanced recycling technology through the construction of a 15,000 tonnes a year PET recycling facility. Partnering with waste collection and mechanical recycling experts Biffa and PET resin producers Alpek Polyester UK and DuPont Teijin Films UK, this project aims to demonstrate how post-consumer and post-industrial packaging, film and other hard-to-recycle PET wastes can be chemically recycled back into new consumer end-use goods.