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Viridor hailed as trailblazer in bid to hit plastic recycling targets

18th December 2019

Viridor is leading the way in helping the UK hit its ambitious plastic recycling targets, according to a new report.


The plan to open a new £65million recycling plant at Avonmouth was held up as an example of the progress being made by Viridor towards targets set out by the UK Plastics Pact - an industry-wide initiative which aims to create a circular economy for plastics.

The report was written by WRAP, an organisation which works with the UK government and recycling businesses to achieve greater recycling efficiency. WRAP launched the Plastics Pact last year, with Viridor signing up as one of the founding members.

One of the pact's main targets is for 70 per cent of plastic packaging to be recycled or composted by 2025. The national rate in 2018 was 44 per cent.

Avonmouth Resource Recovery Centre artist's impression.jpg

The WRAP report said: "As a nation we're currently recycling 44 per cent of our plastic packaging. This is being supported by crucial new investment in UK reprocessing of plastic, including new facilities being announced by waste management giants Viridor and Biffa.

"Millions are being invested in building the UK's recycling capacity.

"Viridor's new Avonmouth facility will process 81,000 tonnes of PET plastic (commonly used in plastic bottles and plastic trays)."

Viridor's decision to open a new plastics recycling plant at Avonmouth will see it process 81,000 tonnes of PET plastic in the first year, rising to 89,000 tonnes by the third year.


The new plant will draw heat and power generated from non-recyclable waste at a £252million co-located energy recovery facility which forms part of the Avonmouth Resource Recovery Centre.

Phil Piddington, Viridor managing director, said: "For Viridor, this is just the start of an ongoing investment in plastics recycling and reprocessing infrastructure in the UK, returning more recycled material back to our economy.

"Viridor’s Avonmouth investment embodies the pact’s focus on collaboration as we have contracts with Unilever, INEOS and Klöckner Pentaplast already announced and more high profile announcements to follow.  

"Investment, collaboration and innovation are key focus areas for Viridor as a sector-leading recycling and energy recovery company.”


Increasing the amount of plastic packaging being recycled or composted to 70 per cent is one of four main targets of the plastics pact.

The other three are:

  1. Eliminating problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative delivery models.
  2. 100 per cent of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable.
  3. 30 per cent average recycled content across all plastic packaging.

WRAP's report says that 1 billion problematic and unnecessary single use plastic items will be eliminated by the end of 2020.

It also says that pact members, including Viridor, are more than halfway towards the target of recycling 70 per cent of plastic packaging.

But it does warn that complex challenges still remain within the industry.

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Marcus Gover, WRAP chief executive, said: "The way that we make, use and dispose of plastic is transforming and I am proud of the progress that the pact has made so far.

"But there is no magic wand - we're unpicking a highly complex and well-established system and making sure that we don't simply displace the environmental cost elsewhere.

"Retaining the valuable role that plastic packaging plays, especially in preventing food waste, is crucial. We can't gamble with the climate in our desire to tackle plastic pollution.

"Our pact members have shown that they're committed to this challenge and our new report demonstrates the breadth of action so far on tackling plastic waste.

"These aren't token gestures - changes like these require a huge amount of investment and innovation. It shows that our members are working collaboratively towards the same goal."

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