Planning permission granted for Sunderland plastics pyrolysis plant

The 12-acre site at Port of Sunderland earmarked by Quantafuel for the plant.

Sunderland City Council has given the go-ahead for a new plant at the Port of Sunderland, creating over 100 permanent jobs and processing plastic waste that is largely not recycled in the UK, according to Norwegian technology firm Quantafuel ASA.

The plant will take mixed plastic waste from across the north of England that would otherwise have been incinerated or disposed of in landfill.

Quantafuel says the process reduces C02 emissions by around 70% compared to incineration.

Construction is expected to get underway later this year, with the plant opening in 2025.

Quantafuel Sunderland Ltd – a subsidiary of Quantafuel ASA – will build the plastics processing plant on a key 12-acre site on the eastern edge of the port.

A sustainable alternative to incineration and landfill
Using pyrolysis technology, the materials will be heated in the absence of oxygen so they break down into raw materials (pyrolysis oils) that can be used again in the manufacture of new products, including high-grade plastics.

Winifred Patricia Johansen, Director of Quantafuel Sunderland, thanked the City Council and port for their welcoming and ambitious approach and said she looked forward to working with them to create a plant that could become a key part of Sunderland’s future growth and Net Zero plans.

“We’re very pleased to have secured planning permission and thank council members for sharing in our ambition to create a long-term, sustainable alternative to incineration and landfill for dealing with plastics,” said Winifred.

“We’re hoping to open similar plants across the UK but chose Sunderland as our first development as the port provides an ideal location, and the city has a good, skilled workforce to draw on.

“We’re looking forward to working with the community to bring this plant to fruition.”

The new plant will support 200 jobs during construction and will create over 100 new, full-time posts when it opens.

It will be designed to process around 100,000 tonnes of low value plastic waste, such as soft food packaging and a variety of domestic and industrial plastics.

The raw materials produced in the plant will be shipped from the port to customers in the petrochemical industry to be used again, while self-generated gas (NCG) will be used to power the plant.

Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller, who is also Chair of Port of Sunderland, said: “I’m thrilled the Council has given permission for Quantafuel to build its first UK plastics recycling operation right here in Sunderland.

“We’re a city transforming and growing, and this major investment from Quantafuel demonstrates what we have to offer global companies, and our transition to becoming a key investment hub for innovative businesses in the sustainable technologies and green industries.

“The port is key to the city’s development plans and we continue to invest in it to develop our rail, road, and sea links, which are vital to attracting investment. We look forward to working with Quantafuel in the months and years ahead as it brings these exciting plans to life.”

Port Director Matthew Hunt said Quantafuel was a welcome addition to the site.

“In recent years, there has been huge investment and effort to stimulate interest and growth at the port, and a lot of infrastructure works have been carried out to attract new business,” said Matthew.

“It’s great to see these efforts paying off with Quantafuel investing, alongside new businesses, such as Wastefront and Brineflow Limited.

“We wish Quantafuel well and look forward to working with them as they begin construction and become an integral part of the business community at the port.”

For more information about the plans, you can view information boards at