Viridor and Unilever agree five-year contract for recycled plastic

Viridor and Unilever have agreed a new contract which will see Unilever receive of a range of recycled plastic from Viridor’s £65m Avonmouth Resource Recovery Centre near Bristol. 

The companies – both founding members of the UK Plastics Pact – have agreed an initial five-year contract for recycled plastic from the plant which is powered by non-recyclable waste through Viridor’s new £252m Avonmouth Energy Recovery Facility. 

Viridor Resource Management Managing Director Keith Trower said: “Viridor and Unilever are committed to helping the UK achieve its recycling and sustainability targets and this contract demonstrates how we are translating that ambition in action. 

“To do this in a meaningful way Viridor has acknowledged the UK plastic reprocessing capacity gap and our Avonmouth investment is our response to that market demand. By putting more recycled plastic back into the economy, and powering that process with non-recyclable waste, we are creating a sustainable solution and ensuring consumer brands, such as Unilever, have access to quality post-consumer recycled material.” 

Mr Trower added: “Crucially, this contract also recognises the relationship between UK Plastics Pact partners and how such collaboration is vital if we are to achieve closed loop recycling solutions and achieve the Pact’s goals of 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging by 2025.” 

Sebastian Munden, Unilever UK & Ireland General Manager, said: “Unilever has committed to increase its use of recycled plastic and close the loop on plastic packaging. 
He said: “Limited availability of high-quality recycled content has, though, remained a challenge and that’s why we’re so pleased that our collaboration with Viridor will bring extra capacity on-line in the UK.  This will be essential towards creating a more circular market, as well as contributing to the UK Plastic Pact targets. 
“We think that UK citizens will also be encouraged to recycle more if they can see their efforts being rewarded with more plastic going back into new bottles and not ending up in the environment.” 

Viridor MD Phil Piddington said the Avonmouth plant was a crucial part of the company’s circular economy commitments and an important next step in its plastic recycling strategy. 

He said: “The unique design of the site - incorporating sophisticated energy recovery and recycling technology -  allows for the transfer of power and heat to serve the recycling and reprocessing site, creating a truly resource and energy-efficient waste management solution. 

“Reprocessed plastic uses 50% less electricity than virgin plastic, which is already a very persuasive argument in favour of recycled materials. When we reduce our energy consumption further by tapping in to the low carbon power created through energy recovery, we can achieve even greater sustainability and environmental efficiency.” 

Viridor and Unilever have previously worked together with Nextek Ltd on detectable black plastic packaging for Unilever’s TRESemmé and Lynx personal care brands with trials carried out at Viridor’s Rochester Polymers Recycling Facility in Kent.   

In year one, the UK's biggest multi-polymer plant at Avonmouth will produce 60KTPA of high quality recycled plastic a year from 81KTPA feedstock, rising to 89KTPA in year three, producing 63KTPA of recycled material.   

The Viridor project will put 60,000 tonnes of recycled plastic from bottles, pots, tubs and trays in PET, HDPE and PP flake and pellet form) back in the economy every year as a viable and sustainable solution to virgin plastic. It will be powered by diverting 320,000 tonnes of waste from landfill and generating 282GWh of electricity – the equivalent energy used to power around 77,000 homes. 


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