Business

Nestlé invests in Yes Recycling flexible plastic processing plant

Nestlé UK and Ireland has partnered with Yes Recycling in order to process hard-to-recycle plastics in Fife.

The plant is intended to turn flexible plastics, such as those typically used in food packaging, into building materials – traditionally, this material was considered unrecyclable due to facilities being unable to process flexible plastic waste at scale locally. Nestlé has provided Yes Recycling with a pre-investment of £1.65 million to go towards the site, which will have a capacity of 15,000 tonnes of plastic once opened, according to the recycling company. The site is an established building that the company has leased.

Yes Recycling FifeThe collected material will be repurposed into plywood alternatives, to be used in construction, retail spaces, and the agricultural industry. The facility will serve the Fife area, working closely with the local council and waste management companies, with Yes Recycling stating that the ultimate intention is for the facility to provide a blueprint for similar projects across the UK.

The packaging used to produce the building materials – including KitKat wrappers; Purina pet food pouches; Rowntree confectionery bags; and Nestlé cereal bags – will be sourced from refuse collected from the kerbside by resource management company Cireco, as well as from certain commercial streams. The collection of flexi-plastics is not a service that is currently available to households, meaning that Cireco will sort this material from the recycling stream.

The packaging will then be transported by Cireco to the recycling facility, where it is to be washed and sorted, before being broken down and turned into pellets. These pellets will be compressed in order to form plastic sheets, referred to as Ecosheet, ready for reuse and, at the end of their lifetime, eventual recycling.

The pre-investment is being managed on behalf of Nestlé by Ecosurety, with the funding being returned via the forward sale of Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) that will be supplied to the food and drink conglomerate once the recycling part has commenced its operations. With PRN systems due to expire by the end of 2023, there is uncertainty surrounding the flow of funds in the near future, though Yes Recycling asserts that the connection between councils, recyclers and other stakeholder parties will ensure the development of infrastructure needed to support this transition. The recycling company states that it has factored this shift into its calculations, with loans due to be repaid in full by the time PRN systems are discontinued.

The opening of the Yes Recycling facility is slated to take place by the end of 2021.

Group Packaging Manager at Nestlé UK and Ireland, Alison Bramfitt, commented: “It is really exciting to be partnering with Yes Recycling and helping fund this new plant in Fife. We are working hard at Nestlé to create circularity for our packaging so it can have multiple lives and uses and doesn’t end up as waste in landfill. Being able to partner with pioneering technology such as this is just one of the ways we are taking steps forward on this journey.

“We have committed to making 100 per cent of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 and to reduce our use of virgin plastics by one-third in the same period. It is fantastic to see our packaging given a second life into something useful, and we are looking at many partnerships to help encourage the recycling infrastructure in the UK.

“Earlier this year we announced collaborations with other manufactures to create the Flexible Plastic Fund and the Flexible Packaging Consortium, as we know working together and creating partnerships can have the most impact on our planet.”

Omer Kutluoglu, Owner of Yes Recycling, said: “Without the significant financial support of Nestlé, our ground-breaking plant for hard to recycle materials could never have come to fruition. Supporting domestic recycling and developing innovative solutions for complex plastics is a necessity for the environment and the economy.

“Yes Recycling recognises the work that Nestlé is doing to reduce packaging and create recyclable alternatives. Packaging presented as difficult to recycle will be recycled through our new facility in Fife. The project enables change for the better and Nestlé are at the forefront of facilitating these changes.”