HEMSWELL firm ECO Plastics has been given a £1.15 million boost from the Government to extend its recycling plant and create 12 new jobs.
The loan will be used to extend ECO’s existing bottle sorting and processing facility, at Hemswell, near Gainsborough, enabling an extra 15,000 tonnes of plastic to be recycled each year.
And the move has been praised by Environment Minister Lord Taylor, who said it was a step towards the UK being a ‘zero-waste economy’.
ECO Plastics, Europe’s largest and leading plastic bottle recycler, re-opened in November 2010 after it was ravaged by fire in August 2009.
The firm then went on to enter a partnership with Coca-Cola in March last year to develop a new £15 million purpose-built recycling facility at the Hemswell site.
On completion, it will create the largest and most sophisticated plant of its type in Europe.
The latest boost means the Hemswell facility will be better able to process rigid plastic packaging such as tubs, pots and trays, as well as plastic bottles.
A further 12 local people will be employed at the plant, providing a modest but much-needed boost to the job market in West Lindsey.
The company has secured the financial package from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a not-for-profit company specifically tasked with increasing recycling across UK industry.
ECO Plastics began re-processing post consumer plastics in 2006. Over the past five years it has invested more than £17m to quadruple its processing capacity and triple the factory size.
Since then the demand for such facilities has rocketed, with expansion being the only way forward.
ECO Plastics managing director Jonathan Short said: “The processing of non-bottle rigid plastics packaging is the next logical step in UK plastics recycling infrastructure.”
But he warned that the industry must not run before it can walk, by ensuring the processing capability is in place before further collections are encouraged across the UK.
“Even after this investment, current collections far outweigh the available processing capacity, posing serious risk to the whole industry,” he said.
It is important that rigid plastic packaging is effectively recycled. If not done properly, they can contaminate the valuable plastic bottle waste stream – damaging the economy and the environment.
As the UK’s capacity to process non-bottle plastic packaging grows, local authorities will increase routine kerb side collections from households.
Environment minister Lord Taylor said he was delighted to see further investment in ECO Plastics.
“The recycling industry is growing and we’re working to help companies gain a foothold in this exciting new marketplace which will help us become a zero-waste economy,” he said.
“This investment will increase the amount of plastic that gets recycled by 15,000 tonnes, helping to protect the environment and save businesses money by cutting back on their use of raw materials.”