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First ever UK recycling plant to turn used plastic bottles back Into food packaging

March 20, 2007 at 1:35 pm

A £12 million funding agreement was signed on the 5th March which announced the arrival of the first UK plant to recycle plastics back into food packaging. The plant, due to open in December of this year, will be located in Dagenham and operated by Closed Loop London (CLL). The new facilities at Dagenham will ensure that 35,000 tonnes of packaging which would previously have been exported for recycling or sent to landfill will instead be converted into packaging material here in the UK. Millions of water, soft drinks and cosmetics bottles are made of Polyethylene terephtalate, or PET, which will soon be recycled into food packaging at the site at Dagenham.

Managing director of CLL Chris Dow said recently: “The development of this facility is the realisation of a three year vision… We are delighted to be able to bring to the food packaging manufacturers a commercially viable and environmentally responsible option when specifying packaging.” Previously, tonnes of plastics were exported to suitable recycling plants abroad, alternatively they were incinerated or sent to landfill. The new plant marks a huge step forward for recycling in the UK, and has attracted private equity funding from Foresight Venture Partners, a banking facility from Allied Irish Bank (GB), and is also supported by public sector funding from the London Development Agency (LDA) and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme).

One of the key motivations behind the plant at Dagenham is the improvement of UK recycling facilities in response to mounting concerns about climate change and global warming. This growing sensitivity to climate change and the acknowledged need for more efficient recycling in the UK has spurred individuals to praise the plans for the new facilities. Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, stated that the announcement is “a big leap forward for recycling in the capital and will boost our fight against climate change.” The plans also respond to growing public demand for ‘greener’ waste disposal practises, as Jennie Price, Chief Executive of WRAP points out: “There is a real public demand for plastics recycling, and a strong desire to see that recycling happening close to home.” The new plant at Dagenham seems to indicate a positive attitude shared by both public and private sectors that efficient recycling is a necessity, marking a promising step forward in the battle against climate change.

Marks & Spencer has been the first to commit to sending plastic waste to the plant from its stores in London, and is encouraging suppliers to source the recycled PET for M&S packaging from the site. Stuart Rose, the Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer said recently “We will be able to send our own plastic waste to the plant for recycling and use even more recycled plastic in M&S packaging.” It is hoped that more major retailers will follow the example made by Marks & Spencer in committing their plastic waste to UK recycling.

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