WE ARE PLAYING A LEADING ROLE IN TRANSFORMING THE WASTE SECTOR
The way we extract, consume and dispose of materials has a major impact on our carbon footprint. Too often the circular economy is seen as a separate part of the environmental debate. But it is not. Living in balance with the planet requires us to build a world where nothing goes to waste. This is our plan to lead the way.
Our five key commitments
1. End plastic waste export
Recycling and reprocessing in the UK ensures the best traceability of materials from disposal to new raw material. It also ensures that those who pay for recycling (consumers) see the economic benefit from local jobs and investment. To drive ending plastic waste export, we will:
- Open our new Avonmouth Polymers reprocessing plant
- Expand operations, with an ambition to invest in new plastic recycling and reprocessing facilities.
- Promote a ban on plastic waste export.
2. Drive an infrastructure market for recycling
Drive an infrastructure market for recycling.
The UK recycling sector is severely hampered by volatile prices and short-term contracts. This undermines investment and technology development (as minimising the cost of building is required to help minimise the risk). Systemic change is needed and to drive this, we will:
- Work to create an infrastructure investment environment in recycling and reprocessing in UK.
- Promote a ban on the routine use of all but the four most recyclable plastics on the market.
3. Expand operations to hard-to-recycle materials
The pots, tubs and trays in food packaging recycling rate is far below that for bottles. Plastic films have a collection rate for recycling just 7%3 and represent the greatest area of opportunity for increasing circularity and cutting carbon. We will:
- Actively seek to expand Viridor’s operations to cover LDPE film.
- Promote the inclusion of plastic films in ‘Consistent Collections’ from the start.
- Identify better recycling solutions for pots, tubs and trays materials.
4. Plastics extraction
Extract plastics from general waste and drive novel reprocessing techniques.
The circular economy will only be realised if materials are returned to the market for the same uses after reprocessing as they had before – this is closed-loop recycling, and we want to see this rise. We will:
- Trial and expand plastic removal from material destined for our EfW plants.
- Work with Government and the regulator to achieve a recognised ‘end-of-waste’ status for effective chemical recycling.
- Continue to explore and partner with third parties on chemical recycling.
5. Drive innovation and regulatory improvement to achieve complete plastic circularity
Plastics deliver a great deal of good by prolonging food shelf life and cutting down waste. A combination of regulatory and technology limitations prevents plastics from being infinitely recycled and returned back to the material grade delivered at first production (e.g., food-grade). We will:
- Work to develop ways to convert pots, tubs and trays back into food grade materials.
- Achieve food-grade reprocessing in PET at all our reprocessing plants.
- Work to achieve a more equitable system for achieving food-grade PP and HDPE.
- Monitor technology development for uses of CO2 as a basis for new virgin polymer.
Building from these commitments, Viridor will end our export of plastic waste and focus on reprocessing all four major forms of plastics, working with industry and Government to achieve fully circular recycling for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high- and low-density polyethylene (HDPE and LDPE) and polypropylene (PP) by 2025. Using CO₂ captured from our EfW plants we will target the end of plastic dependency on fossil fuels by 2040.
BRIDGING THE GAP: ENDING BRITAIN’S RELIANCE ON PLASTIC WASTE EXPORT
Bridging the gap: ending Britain's reliance on plastic waste export
New independent research conducted by global sustainability consultancy Anthesis and commissioned by Viridor, has revealed the amount of plastic packaging ending up in household recycling bins is set to increase by 45% by 2035.