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Biffa opens Seaham plastic recycling plant

Biffa has today (30 January) opened its £27.5-million PET plastic bottle recycling facility in Seaham, County Durham.

Biffa's Seaham plastic recycling plant

The facility is capable of converting 57,000 tonnes of PET plastic per year – equivalent to 1.3 billion plastic bottles – back into high-purity plastic pellets, which will be sold on to manufacturers. The plant is expected to generate £40 million in revenue per year and provide 100 full-time jobs in the region.

Commenting on today’s opening, Biffa Chief Executive Michael Topham said: “This facility will help the UK address two of its most pressing issues – plastic waste and the climate emergency. Whilst we must work towards reducing overall plastic consumption as a society, the fact remains that plastic has a vital role as a lightweight, durable, low energy-intensity material, that if recycled properly can have a sustainable role in modern life.

“Facilities like ours at Seaham will help ensure that we can recycle our own plastic waste here in the UK, creating jobs in the green economy and stimulating the development of more sustainable packaging.”

The Seaham plant was officially unveiled at an opening ceremony by Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. Murison commented: “Biffa’s decision to invest in this new, state-of-the-art facility in Seaham will be yet another step in our ambition for the North to close the productivity gap and work towards an extra 850,000 jobs by 2050 by transforming our economy for the better.

"Not only will it help to reduce our overall plastic consumption as a society, it puts the Northern Powerhouse at the heart of the latest recycling capability and is another important step towards a more environmentally sustainable future that the North is uniquely well placed to lead the country and globally.”

With today’s (30 January) Environment Bill confirming that the UK Government will be banning the export of plastic waste to developing countries, further investment is needed to boost domestic plastic recycling capacity and end reliance on exports.

In addition to its new Seaham plant, Biffa has also announced that it will be building a £7-million facility in Washington, Tyne and Wear, which will be capable of recycling 20,000 tonnes of plastic pots and trays each year, providing at least 30 jobs. This builds on Biffa’s existing infrastructure – the company’s Redcar plant processes around 18,000 tonnes of recycled high density polyethylene (rHDPE) each year, with 85 per cent of milk bottles sold in the UK now containing Biffa recycled plastics.

Viridor is also set to open its £65-million plastic recycling plant in Avonmouth later this year.

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