Recycler ECO Plastics has added 15,000 tonnes of capacity to its Lincolnshire recycling plant and created 12 more jobs thanks to a £1.15m loan from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap).
The loan will be invested in extending the company's existing bottle sorting and processing activities and result in 150,000 tonnes of plastics being recycled at the plant every year.
Included in this higher figure will be rigid plastic packaging including tubs and pots, as well as plastic bottles.
Jonathan Short, managing director of ECO Plastics, said processing non-bottle rigid plastics was the “next logical step” in the UK's plastics recycling infrastructure.
“But it is vitally important that we don't run before we can walk - the processing infrastructure must be in place before we encourage further non-bottle rigid plastics collection across the UK,” he said.
He also highlighted that even after the investment, current collections far outweighed the available processing capacity, arguing this situation posed a serious risk to the whole industry.
“We support Wrap's vision to see this growth occur in the medium term, allowing companies like ECO Plastics to develop markets for the non-bottle plastic recyclate. It is an essential ingredient for a successful industry,” he added.
Marcus Gover, director of Wrap's Closed Loop Economy programme the loan represented a further confidence boost in UK recycling.
“Getting the right reprocessing infrastructure in place is crucial to turning the developing interest in mixed plastics collections from local authorities into a reality.
“I'd encourage anyone with an interest in recycling plastic packaging to check the criteria of our Mixed Plastics Loan Fund,” he added.
Environment Minister Lord Taylor welcomed developments at ECO Plastics, adding: “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.”
ECO Plastics secured its £1.15m loan via £650,000 from Wrap's mixed plastics loan fund and £500,000 from the organisation's accelerating growth fund.
Last year the group formed a joint venture with Coca-Cola Enterprises to address what the soft drinks giant called the "UK's recycling challenges".