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ECO Plastics/Coca-Cola recycling JV is ‘world’s largest’

The opening on May 10 of Continuum Recycling, a joint venture in the UK between Coca-Cola Enterprises and ECO plastics, makes the facility in Hemswell, Lincolnshire the world’s “largest and most sophisticated” plastics recycling plant.

The expansion of the existing ECO Plastics site means it is now capable of processing 150,000 tonnes of mixed plastics a year, including 40,000 tonnes of bottle-grade rPET pellet.

The £15 million facility is said to be a first for Great Britain, with used plastic packaging being sorted and reprocessed domestically, before returning to shelves in Great Britain as part of another bottle.

The plant will more than double the amount of bottle-grade rPET previously created in Britain, and will allow CCE to meet its commitment to use 25% rPET in all its bottles by the end of 2012.

Jonathan Short, MD of ECO Plastics, said: “Today is a great day for ECO Plastics and a great day for UK recycling generally. It demonstrates the huge potential of working with global leaders like Coca-Cola Enterprises, as well as the strategic value of long-term partnerships.

“Together they have provided us with confidence to invest in the next-generation technology which will be crucial to our industry’s future development.”

Creating 30 new skilled jobs in the local area, Continuum Recycling will provide CCE with high-quality rPET for a minimum of ten years, and will save around 33,500 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Simon Baldry, MD of Coca-Cola Enterprises, said: “Today’s opening of this £15m state-of-the-art facility will transform recycling in this country. This is a first for the industry and an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to build a low-carbon, zero waste business here in Great Britain.”

Continuum Recycling will be used this summer by Coca-Cola as part of an initiative to collect Coke and additional PET soft drinks bottles and turn them back into new bottles on the shelves within six weeks.

In what is described by Jon Woods, general manager Coca-Cola GB & Ireland, as “our most sustainable sponsorship activation to date”, CCE will be collecting all empty soft drinks bottles from the Olympic Park as part of moves to make the London Olympic Games a zero waste to landfill event.

ECO Plastics began re-processing post consumer plastics in 2006 and has over the past five years invested over £17m to quadruple its processing capacity and triple the factory footprint. During early 2009 it became the first UK company to receive food grade accreditation for its rPET resin.

A £1.15 million loan from WRAP’s Mixed Plastics Loan Fund in February has enabled the company to expand its sorting facility, enabling it to more efficiently process rigid plastic packaging such as tubs, pots and trays.