Biffa polymers mixed plastics recycling facility

The Biffa Polymers mixed plastics recycling facility, built with support from WRAP, on behalf of the Government, was the first integrated washing and sorting facility in the UK specifically designed to recycle rigid mixed plastics packaging when it opened in March 2011.

Recycling capacity in the UK for rigid mixed plastic packaging such as pots, tubs and trays needs to grow in line with the growth in collections brought about by a strong public demand to recycle mixed plastics and to meet the overall UK recycling targets for plastic packaging waste of 42% (57% target for obligated companies) by 2017.

WRAP provided Biffa Polymers (formally Greenstar WES) with a £1.187 million capital grant to help build the new rigid mixed plastics recycling facility in Redcar, Middlesbrough.

The Redcar facility began processing around 15,000 tonnes per year of mixed polymer rigid non-bottle plastic packaging waste from Biffa MRFs, as well as local authorities and commercial Biffa customers from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Since then due to difficulties in securing feedstocks of the right quality, Biffa Polymers has switched to a pre-sorted polypropylene (PP) packaging input stream, still consisting of pots, tubs and trays from the household waste stream. This has involved upgrades to certain items of plant equipment, funded by Biffa Polymers.

Once sorted and processed, the high quality washed PP flake outputs, are suitable for a wide range of end uses where the environmental benefits are unlocked through replacing the use of virgin plastic. Examples of new products include paint trays, plant pots, storage boxes, pallets, car parts and office furniture. In addition some of the output will be processed through Biffa’s food grade HDPE recycling facility at the same site and go back into the manufacture of new milk bottles.

This recycling facility demonstrates the environmental and commercial benefits of a fully functioning rigid PP pots, tubs and trays recycling plant for the UK recycling industry. And with a wide range of applications and global end markets, the added value processing of pots, tubs and trays will deliver economic benefits in the UK, divert more waste from landfill, and reduce carbon emissions.

Note: the film below is of the original plant configuration in March 2011. The plant has since been upgraded and reconfigured to process pre-sorted polypropylene pots, tubs and trays.

Watch the video and find out how rigid mixed plastics can be recycled into new plastic products.

Watch the time lapse video to see how the Biffa Polymers plant was built.