Viridor to process all plastic recycling in the UK

Recycling and waste management company Viridor has announced that from next year it will be processing all of its plastic waste domestically.

This decision comes as the results from the company’s Recycling Index 2019, published on Monday (9 September) and which measures public attitudes towards waste and recycling, show that 85 per cent of people believe that the UK should recycle and reprocess plastic waste at home – five points higher than last year’s figure.

The survey highlighted that the public view plastic as a valuable resource, with 89 per cent of respondents agreeing that plastic waste should be used to create resources that can be used again.

65 per cent of those surveyed said that they are more likely to buy products with packaging made from recyclable material, and 64 per cent said they are more likely to buy products with recyclable packaging.

The development of domestic recycling processing is a key part of the government’s Industrial Strategy and the Resources and Waste Strategy, with a tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled plastic set to be introduced in 2022 to drive demand for recycled plastic and stimulate domestic markets.

An artist's impression of Viridor's Avonmouth Recovery Centre
An artist's impression of Viridor's Avonmouth Recovery Centre.
Increasing scrutiny on the export of plastic waste to developing countries for recycling, where it often ends up being improperly disposed of has seen added impetus behind moves to reshore UK reprocessing, especially since China’s waste ban at the start of 2018 and moves by other Southeast Asian countries to also impose trade restrictions on the import of waste, with some even going so far as to send waste back to the developed countries from where it came.

Viridor has recently invested in the development of a £65-million plastic reprocessing plant at its Avonmouth Resource Recovery Centre, which will be opened in 2020. The company also has an existing network of recycling facilities across the UK, including plants in Rochester in Kent and Skelmersdale in Lancashire.

Phil Piddington, Managing Director of Viridor, said: “Viridor has been using the Recycling Index to track public attitudes to recycling for four years and, as a UK company working with 150 local authority and major corporate clients and 32,000 customers, we understand the appetite for greater resource efficiency and a more circular economy.

“What this really means is that people expect the UK to be responsible for the waste it produces. The public wants us to find a way to recycle and process plastic so it is no longer considered single use, that it will go on to live another life and make an ongoing contribution to our economy.”

Viridor is also a founding member of the UK Plastics Pact, which has seen a range of businesses commit to eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by 2025. The Pact has also called for members to remove polystyrene and PVC from food packaging by the end of this year, and from non-food products by the end of 2020.

Piddington added: “Viridor, through the Plastics Pact, is working hard with like-minded companies who can help us achieve our goal of making it easy for people to do the right thing when they separate their recycling at home.

“We are accomplishing this through our dedicated division, Viridor Resource Management (VRM). The public should feel confident that when they put the Right Stuff in the Right Bin, we ensure that it can be recycled and reprocessed by investing in UK infrastructure.”

Compulsory recycling lessons in UK schools

The Recycling Index revealed that 87 per cent of UK residents think they should take more responsibility for recycling but don’t think that they are equipped to do so.

Viridor suggests that the solution lies in education, with 76 per cent of those surveyed saying that recycling should be compulsory in UK schools.

Aiming to encourage young people to recycle, Viridor runs 11 educational centres, receiving 8,455 visitors last year and delivering 52 outreach events.

Viridor Learning and Visitor Centre Manager Jessica Baker-Pike explained that their lessons are highly relevant for global citizenship classes, geography and science, technology and mathematics (STEM) classes. The pupils are taught about what can and can’t be recycled, and are encouraged to think about the message ‘Right Stuff, Right Bin’.

Baker-Pike said: “There are always students that get it and you can see when they suddenly understand or when you’ve said something which really interests them. I know they are the householders of the future and that they do share information with their parents. At primary level we set homework for their parents, giving the students a teaching tool to educate their whole family.

“The younger visitors to our centres love to feel empowered to become their parents teachers. They deeply care about nature and we like the fact that we can give the older secondary school students aspirations and insight into careers (in waste management) which changes lives.

“We tell them that humans are the only organism to create waste and that we are all responsible for our resources, protecting nature and our environment.”

You can view the Viridor Recycling Index 2019 on the company’s website.

Related Articles