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Investment opportunities for recycling plastics unwrapped

A major investment to boost the amount of plastic that can be recycled in Scotland has been unveiled today by Zero Waste Scotland.

25 Jul 12

The Scottish Government-backed delivery body, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, has launched a new £2.5 million loan fund offering direct financial support to organisations to develop plastics sorting and reprocessing facilities in Scotland. 

It also confirmed that it is now working with a preferred supplier, Canadian head-quartered firm Entropex, to finalise arrangements for a proposed £17 million project to build Scotland’s first mixed plastics reprocessing facility.  £5 million of Scottish Government funding is being invested to support the new facility, which is set to be commissioned by March 2014 and will provide reprocessing capacity for 30,000 tonnes of plastics per year. 

Scotland generated around 500,000 tonnes of waste plastic last year, including plastic items like bottles thrown out as household waste and commercial waste plastic, such as film.  Only around one-fifth of this was collected for recycling and, due to the lack of existing reprocessing facilities in Scotland, most of this was sent to facilities in England or overseas.

The investments announced today aim to support the development of new facilities in Scotland capable of reprocessing an additional 75,000 tonnes of plastic per year by 2015.  Expanding the country’s capacity to recycle plastic could create hundreds of new jobs, boost Scotland’s economy, and help to meet the Scottish Government’s target to recycle 70 per cent of all waste by 2025.    

As well as building capacity to allow larger quantities of plastic bottles to be recycled in Scotland, the investments also focus on recycling different types of plastic products that have traditionally been more difficult to recycle, like plastic wrappers and rigid plastics such as yoghurt pots and margarine tubs.  

The approach is built on studies undertaken by Zero Waste Scotland to identify viable business opportunities to increase the nation’s recycling capacity.  This research will help to guide future investment decisions in plastics reprocessing and ensure economic benefits are maximised for Scotland.

Opportunities identified include those in high-value reprocessing of plastic packaging, which typically sees materials recycled in a closed-loop fashion (e.g. HDPE milk bottles recycled back into new milk bottles), as well as lower value reprocessing of materials like plastic films, uPVC window and door frames and plastics from waste electrical equipment.  It is also possible to recover value from heavily contaminated plastics which can’t be easily recycled by turning them into oils and other waste-derived fuels.

Environment Minister, Richard Lochhead, said:

“With 280 million bottles recycled a year, Scotland is already making progress with recycling plastic and Zero Waste Scotland’s research highlights how there is potential for businesses to recycle more and recycle more varieties of plastic. These business opportunities cover plastic that has not previously been recycled in Scotland such as plastic film, uPVC door and window frames, and plastics from waste electrical equipment. The loan fund has been set up to support businesses to take these types of ventures forward.

“With the price and demand for raw materials increasing globally we need to develop infrastructure which helps us to keep high quality materials in Scotland and reduce our dependence on raw materials from overseas. An increase in better recycling will provide the stimulus to drive this required investment and in turn create new employment opportunities.”

Zero Waste Scotland Director, Iain Gulland, said:

“Our £2.5 million loan fund will drive investment in plastics reprocessing in Scotland.  This is a major opportunity to harness some of the thousands of tonnes of plastic we currently waste in order to create jobs and new business opportunities.

“Added to the £5 million which we aim to invest in a landmark and ambitious project to bring cutting-edge technology to Scotland, this signals a huge step forward for the resources industry in Scotland – and ultimately one which will make it easier for people at home and businesses to recycle different kinds of plastics, many of which can’t be recycled right now.”

Scottish Enterprise acting head for the Scottish Investment Bank, Kerry Sharp, said:

"Encouraging businesses to invest in their growth, through developing new products, opening up new markets or finding new customers, is what we do.  The Scottish Investment Bank supports this by providing companies with greater access to finance through a range of equity investments and loan funds as well as financial readiness advice to help companies access growth capital.

"Working in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland to deliver this new loan fund is a great opportunity for companies to invest in their growth, creating new jobs and investment for Scotland, as well as helping us contribute to the Scottish Government's ambitious low carbon targets.

"Our fund management and delivery experience combined with Zero Waste Scotland's knowledge and expertise are the perfect ingredients to make this new loan fund a success."

Keith Bechard, President of Entropex, said:

“Our business aspires to be a global leader in the processing of mixed rigid plastics.

“The fact that Scotland is pursuing a zero waste agenda based around high-quality and high-value recycling makes it an attractive place for us to invest.  There is work to do to get these valuable materials out of the waste stream but we will work with councils and others to make sure we maximise the recovery of household bottle and non-bottle plastics in Scotland.”

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