A pioneering new facility is now open in Fife which provides a closed-loop solution for the UK challenge of ‘hard-to-recycle’ soft plastics.
Co-owned by Morrisons and recycling plant specialists Yes Recycling, the site is the first of its kind to process a mix of plastics, including film, into reusable materials. It aims to develop a greater plastics recycling infrastructure in the UK, to keep the material in a ‘closed loop’ and save it from being exported overseas.
Ecosurety and a number of other organisations including Nestlé UK & Ireland and Zero Waste Scotland have been involved in the development of this ground-breaking recycling plant, with construction and operations handled by Yes Recycling.
Low-grade soft plastics such as chocolate wrappers, crisp packets and food film have previously not been recycled widely because of limited technology to recycle these materials into commercially viable products.
The new recycling plant will use patented technology, developed over the last seven years, to turn hard-to-recycle flexible food packaging into plastic flakes, pellets and new Ecosheet, an environmentally friendly alternative to plywood, which can be used widely and recycled at end-of-life. At full capacity, the site will recycle 15,000 tonnes of post-consumer plastic packaging a year.
The hard-to-recycle soft plastic will be sent to the site from Morrisons distribution sites and stores, and by Cireco Scotland which operates Fife Council’s household kerbside collection service. Fife is currently one of a limited number of local councils that collects and segregates hard-to-recycle plastic from its customer collections and sends it to a recycling facility.
More hands on deck
Omer Kutluoglu, Co-owner of Yes Recycling, said: “The UK is in desperate need of more plastic recycling capacity and, in particular, for the so-called ‘hard-to-recycle’ plastic waste such as flexible food packaging. Our new ‘next-generation’ recycling plant, which we’ve developed over the last seven years, is designed to tackle exactly these materials. It is a blueprint for the future and will help to kick-start the UK’s plastics recycling industry. It will mean we can keep plastic in our own country’s ‘circular economy’ and out of our seas and oceans.”
Jamie Winter, Procurement Director at Morrisons, said: “We’ve done a significant amount of work to reduce our plastic use and now we want to help build a UK infrastructure to recycle the plastic that we may still need to use. By recycling these problematic plastics here in the UK we can give them a new life.”
Gareth Morton, Discovery Manager at Ecosurety commented "It is encouraging to witness the increasing momentum around flexible plastics recycling and to support the development of this ground-breaking facility. With Government’s 2027 target on the horizon, it is vital that we have new recycling facilities coming on-stream in order to meet both industry demands and public expectations.”
See our other flexible plastic initiative here.