Boomerang, the Tamworth-based plastics recycler, has been closed down by its owner, hit by the falling price of materials, rising energy costs and questionable government policies around recycling.
Founded four years ago by Mike Jordan, who also owns and operates ancillaries firm Summit Systems, Boomerang was originally created as a vehicle to recycle production scrap and rejected yoghurt pots for food manufacturer Müller.
Jordan ploughed around £1.5m, without recourse to bank finance, into the business, originally located near Summit's existing plant.
Initial trading had been encouraging, Jordan said. However a fire at Summit's factory in 2014 prompted him to move Boomerang to new premises nearby, where electricity costs rocketed.
These, combined with the falling price for re-grind material, meant the business came under increasing pressure, he said.
Prevailing attitudes towards plastics recycling in the UK did not help, he added. “There is no joined-up thinking [at government level],” he told PRW.
“The government needs to take plastics recycling seriously. That means reforming the existing PRN system, which currently encourages the export of waste material, where sorting can be done much more cheaply than is the case here in the UK.
“And government departments should provide leadership and look at their own procurement policies. They can encourage plastics recycling by buying products that contain recycled material.”
Jordan went on: “There are some firms who recycle plastics and turn the resulting material into new products. This wasn't our business model.
“To make this activity work you need high volumes of between two to four tonnes an hour versus what we were doing, which was one tonne an hour, and that requires significant investment.
“I was very passionate about Boomerang and what we were setting out to achieve, but last year I realised we were up against it,” he added.
Around a dozen jobs were lost as a result of the closure, Jordan said, though two of the affected employees were transferred over to Summit Systems.
He added: “We did not take this decision [to close Boomerang] lightly. But all our creditors have been paid and I'm proud of that.
“We learned some hard lessons but we've not been scarred by the experience, and in Summit Systems and in our new equipment venture, Summit Recycling Systems, we have great businesses which are going from strength to strength.”