Waste management company Biffa has announced it will increase the capacity of its plastics recycling plant in Washington, Sunderland. In 2020, Biffa invested £7 million (around €8.2 million) in the construction of the new facility, aiming to expand its recycling capabilities for plastic milk bottles, tubs and trays made from HDPE. The initial processing capacity was about 20,000 tonnes per year. That project, said Biffa, also created some 30 new jobs.
The company is now investing a further £13 million in the plant to expand the plant’s annual capacity up to 39,000 tonnes. The investment will create 50 new jobs in the local area, building on Biffa’s established presence in the region. The company, which next to the Washington plant, also operates a plastics recycling facility at Seaham, already employs 115 people in the area. Biffa currently also operates an HDPE facility at Redcar which employees a further 140 people.
The expansion is the latest in a series of significant strategic investments made by the Group as part of its commitment to building a circular economy. In the last five years, Biffa has invested over £54.5 million in plastics recycling infrastructure with plans to quadruple its plastic recycling capacity by 2030. The new investment will take Biffa’s overall plastic recycling capacity to 155,000 tonnes each year.
The company is confident that the extended capacity of HDPE recycling at the plant will benefit packaging producers in the UK, who from 2022 will be required to use at least 30% recycled plastic in their products to avoid the new plastic packaging tax. According to Biffa’s estimates, a further 36,000 tonnes of recycled HDPE will be needed to meet the demand caused by the legislation.
Mick Davis, chief operating officer for Biffa’s resources and energy division, called the investment in Washington ‘another example of Biffa on-shoring recycling capacity in our strategic journey to creating closed loop recycling in the UK’.
“We look forward to being able to offer UK manufacturers more high-quality recycled plastics and help prevent the export of plastics for reprocessing,” he said.