A three-year £10 million large-scale demonstrator project focused on the capture, recovery and recycling of plastic packaging currently lost to landfill and incineration is being led by resource recovery expert Fiberight.
South Wales-based Fiberight is working with four partners on the Uncaptured Unrecycled Plastics (UP) project, which has secured £4.2million in co-funding from Innovate UK’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge (SSPPC). Fiberight has also secured £100k funding from the Welsh Government towards a £200k plastics R&D project aiming to commercialise a near-to-market application for flexible plastics.
The UP project will establish and operate a commercial-scale demonstration facility processing post-consumer plastic packaging from mixed waste streams, such as reject material from Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) and create a new supply of recycled plastics to be used in the economy.
The Swansea facility will use feedstock from local MRFs, initially contaminated MRF films and contaminated rigid plastics, before moving up to processing MRF reject materials. Capacity of the facility will be up to 60,000 tonnes per year and in the long-term, the plant will create 40 jobs.
Project partners include Impact Recycling whose BOSS polymer separation systems will be integrated with Fiberight’s HYDRACYCLE™ technology to showcase a holistic water-based separation process for the recovery and recycling of different plastic types and packaging formats.
Rigid plastics recycler Moulding Solutions will be the key off-take partner for recycling the recovered rigid plastics. They will use plastics recovered from the Swansea facility to complement their current supply in the production of high-quality extruded pellets for use by UK manufacturers of products such as utilities pipes, wheelie bins and packaging.
Ranela Recycling Services, a flexible plastic recycling specialist, will advise on product quality, recycling equipment and routes to market for finished flexible or film-based plastics products.
The fourth partner, ProAmpac, a market leader in flexible packaging will provide technical advice and support to the project.
In terms of end markets and applications for the recycled materials, multiple UK sectors will be targeted, including non-food contact packaging, heavy gauge refuse sacks, pipes and buckets, lumber and roadside furniture.
Paul Davidson, Innovate UK’s Challenge Director – Smart Sustainable Plastics Packaging, comments: “We are delighted to offer funding to Fiberight and the project partners. Capturing and recycling plastic packaging that otherwise would be sent for incineration as part of a MRF reject stream will help the UK to increase its plastic recycling rate and reduce the environmental impacts associated with disposal. This large-scale demonstration will prove if this technology is capable of achieving that and at commercial scale.”
Nick Thompson, co-founder and Managing Director of Fiberight Ltd says: “The UP project will showcase the full value chain collaborating to establish a new way of recycling plastic packaging in the UK, capturing the lost resources and realising significant environmental benefits.
“It will play a key role in increasing the recycling of plastics in the UK by establishing much-needed infrastructure. By 2028, we aim to increase the amount of flexible plastics recycled in the UK by 300% – compared to 2021 levels of recycling.
“Ultimately, we are confident the project will showcase a game-changing innovation in the waste and recycling industry, thereby enabling access to finance for future commercial ventures,” he adds.
For more information on Fiberight, please contact Dhivya Puri at firstname.lastname@example.org.