Peel Environmental calls for £7.5bn investment in ‘Plastic Parks’

Waste and infrastructure business Peel Environmental has called for the UK to invest over £7.5 billion in infrastructure to deal with plastic waste over the next 10 years.

An artist's impression of the planned Protos Energy Park in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
The planned Protos Energy Park in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

The company, which is part of Peel L&P, has outlined its vision for its ‘Plastic Parks’ to provide a solution for the estimated 4.9 million tonnes of plastic waste generated in the UK each year.

Peel’s first Plastic Park is planned for the company’s Protos facility in Cheshire, which will take plastic that is at the end of its life, maximising what can be removed for recycling with the remaining non-recyclable plastic used to create electricity, hydrogen or other industrial products.

The Protos Plastic Park, which will be managed by Waste2Tricity, will use DMG (Distributed Modular Generation) technology developed by Powerhouse Energy Group (PHE) to turn unrecyclable plastic products, such as end-of-life tyres, into an EcoSynthesis gas, which can be used to produce hydrogen and electricity.

In August, Peel Environmental and PHE announced plans to develop an additional 10 ‘Plastic Park’ sites alongside the Protos Park, as part of a £130-million collaboration between Peel, PHE and Waste2Tricity.

The UK Government has announced measures to improve plastics recycling in the recent Environment Bill and Budget, including an extended producer responsibility (EPR) regime for packaging, a ban on the export of plastic waste to developing countries and a Plastics Packaging Tax on all manufactured and imported plastic packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled content.

Myles Kitcher, Managing Director of Peel Environmental, commented: “Infrastructure for dealing with plastic waste has been piecemeal at best and there’s a huge problem with accountability. Local authorities and businesses often have no idea that their plastics are being exported overseas where it has more chance of finding its way into the ocean.

“It’s right that we should be having the debate about plastic, but we’re not going to rid it from society overnight. In many cases plastic will continue to be the most sustainable and cost effective option, for example its many uses in the medical industry. Rather than demonising all plastics, we need to reduce and re-use what we can, recycle after that and then find better solutions for what’s left.

“The technologies we’re looking at will provide solutions for plastics that up until now haven’t had a value. But we fully expect them to be transitional technologies which in the short term make a positive difference until we can reduce our plastic consumption.”

Explaining that the Plastic Parks would be able to reduce consumer confusion over which plastics can be recycled, Kitcher explained: “Kerbside recycling systems are confusing at best with many plastic products still ending up in the black bin and sent to landfill. The Plastic Parks will offer a simple solution for local councils. We can take any type of plastic, whether it’s been mixed or separated, and we’ll have a one-stop-shop for maximising recycling and creating value from what’s left. We see a network of Plastic Parks across the UK where the technologies can be tailored to local needs.”

“The really exciting part is that this can happen quickly and it is a simple and cost effective solution. Householders can put everything in one bin and be safe in the knowledge that the plastic is either going to be recycled or used to create energy, fuels or other products.”

Tim Yeo, Chairman of Waste2Tricity, added: ““We are proud to be an integral part of Peel’s visionary ‘Plastic Parks’, delivering an innovative solution to the plastic problem we face here in the UK.

“Not only will PowerHouse Energy’s pioneering DMG technology provide an innovative solution to the plastic problem faced here in the UK but it will be producing low-cost hydrogen – a fuel of the future and one which many are recognising as being vital to getting to net zero emissions.”

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