£10m project promises to capture plastic lost to residual streams

Waste management company Fiberight has launched a £10m project to capture, recover, and recycle plastic packaging lost to landfill and incineration. The ‘Uncaptured Unrecycled Plastics (UP) Project’ will run for three years, targeting packaging from all sectors of the UK, including non-food contact packaging, heavy gauge refuse sacks, pipes and buckets, lumber and roadside furniture.

A pile of flexible plasticsThe UP Project has secured £4.2m in co-funding through Innovate UK’s ‘Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge’ (SSPPC). The Welsh Government has also awarded the company £100k towards a research and development project aimed at commercialising a competitive use for recycled flexible plastics.

Paul Davidson, Challenge Director at Innovate UK, said: “[This project] will help the UK to increase its plastic recycling rate and reduce the environmental impacts associated with disposal. This large-scale demonstration will prove if this technology is capable of achieving that and at commercial scale.”

A commercial-scale demonstration facility will be created in Swansea to process the post-consumer plastic packaging. Feedstock will be supplied by local Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) and will initially include contaminated MRF films and contaminated rigid plastics. In the long term, the facility will also process MRF reject materials and have a capacity of up to 60,000 tonnes per year, as well as be responsible for the creation of 40 new jobs.

Speaking to Resource Media regarding expansion plans following the completion of the project in 2026 or 2027, Fiberight said: “We will expand the capacity of [the initial plant] to up to 180,000 tonnes per year. We are also investigating other projects in the UK and EU.

“By 2028 we aim to increase the processing capacity of flexible plastics in the UK by 300% compared to 2021 levels.”

The demonstration facility will rely on an integration of Impact Recycling’s BOSS polymer separation system and Fiberight’s HYDRACYCLE™ technology to create a water-based separation process.

Recycled plastics will be utilised by rigid plastics recycler Moulding Solutions, the key off-take partner for the project. The plastics recovered in Swansea will be used to create high-quality pellets for the production of utilities pipes, wheelie bins and packaging.

The third company partnering with Fiberight is Ranela Recycling Services, which will advise on product quality, recycling equipment and routes to market for finished flexible or film-based plastics. ProAmpac, the final partner, will also provide technical advice and support to the project.

Nick Thompson, co-founder and Managing Director of Fiberight Ltd, said: “The UP project will showcase the full value chain collaborating to establish a new way of recycling plastic packaging in the UK, capturing the lost resources and realising significant environmental benefits.

“It will play a key role in increasing the recycling of plastics in the UK by establishing much-needed infrastructure. By 2028, we aim to increase the amount of flexible plastics recycled in the UK by 300 per cent – compared to 2021 levels of recycling.”