Give all plastic a recycling solution - Viridor shares regional vision
27th February 2020
Viridor has announced a ground-breaking collaboration designed to allow the South West and South Wales to take responsibility for all the plastic consumed here and work together to give it a recycling solution.
The largest UK-owned recycling and energy recovery company, Viridor has its headquarters in the South West with a head office in Taunton. It is part of the FTSE 250 Pennon Group, which is based in Exeter.
Viridor has brought together 150 representatives of local authorities, trade bodies, recyclers and reprocessors, packaging manufacturers, consumer brands, the retail sector and NGOs involved in beach cleans and litter picks to consider a new regional initiative.
Rubbish to Resource – putting plastic to work for the South West and South Wales – took place at We The Curious on Thursday, 27 February 2020.
The brainchild of Viridor MD Phil Piddington, the initiative aims to ensure that all plastic consumed in the region, from kerbside local authority collections, beach cleans and litter picks will all be sent to those companies which can recycle it.
Mr Piddington said: “We know that this is a region which is investing in the innovation needed to keep plastic out of the natural environment and put it back in the circular economy where it belongs.
“Viridor is investing £65m in the UK’s biggest multi-plastic recycling and reprocessing plant which will help manufacturers use recycled plastic instead of virgin material. But it is not just about one company, the success of this project lies in collaboration, and this is something which this region can lead on and which can be replicated across the UK and globally.
“If we pool our infrastructure and expertise and, most importantly our will, we can together ensure that plastic does not escape the net. This is how we tackle plastic pollution. It is everyone’s concern and everyone’s responsibility. We want to do our bit and show real leadership.”
Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the University of Plymouth, said: “There is no single solution to the problems posed by plastic pollution. But the recycling of end of life plastics is a key priority.
"To help increase the proportion of end of life plastics that are recycled we need to engage people right along the supply chain from the design stage, through use and disposal, to ensure items are effectively recycled at the end of their lifetime.
"This new facility, and this conference, help place the South West at the forefront of action and innovation in this field and reinforce the cultural shift needed if we are to utilise plastics in a more responsible manner, so that end of life plastic does not become litter in the environment or waste in managed systems.”
Former BBC Industry correspondent John Moylan, who chaired the conference, said: “I’m delighted to be part of this timely event that will bring together stakeholders who are dedicated to making a recycling revolution take off in the South West and South Wales.”
Tom Heap, broadcaster and Countryfile presenter, spoke at the event about the changing public attitudes to plastic and the need for an effective solution to problem plastics.
He said: “Public perceptions of plastic have changed dramatically in recent years, even to the extent that misinformation about widely recyclable plastic is having unintended consequences for both resource efficiency and climate change.
"However, one thing is clear – collaboration is an effective way to keep plastics out of our natural environment and continuing to flow through the circular economy, which is what this conference is all about.”
Libby Peake, Head of Resource Policy at Green Alliance, said: “Plastic pollution is one of the great environmental challenges of our age. Solving it successfully will require a monumental effort from across all of society, and success will depend on collaboration from all the players involved in the design, manufacture, use, collection and recycling of plastic and alternative materials.
"The Rubbish to Resource event is an opportunity to get to grips with how such a collaboration can work for the South West – and how the region can reduce plastic use and waste while improving circularity.”
Peter Maddox, Director of resources charity WRAP UK, said: “Collaboration is crucial to tackling plastic pollution, and it is at the heart of everything we do under The UK Plastics Pact. Only by bringing the entire supply chain together can we truly transform the way we make, use and dispose of plastic.
"So, it’s really encouraging to see Viridor driving collaboration on plastics in the South West and South Wales and committing investment for essential new infrastructure.”
The On-Packing Recycling Label’s Membership and Service Manager Alice Harlock said: “Well-designed plastic packaging already works hard for the planet, protecting and preventing the 97% of food-related Greenhouse Gas emissions potentially arising from our production and consumption of packaged food, while contributing less than 3% in the packaging itself. But we need to make plastic, the right sort of plastic, work even harder, reusing and recycling it correctly and more often.
“Consumers tell us they want clear, consistent on-pack information on how to do that so we've involved them in designing stronger calls to action - 'Recycle' or 'Don't Recycle' - on our new labels. Now it's down to all of us to make this happen every day, in every room in the house."
Klöckner Pentaplast (kp) Director of Sustainability Lubna Edwards said kp and Viridor have a long-standing partnership, with both having a common goal - accelerating recycling systems and infrastructure around the globe, striving for a circularity.
The plastics manufacturer, which designs and manufactures for sustainable solutions, has 32 plants in 18 countries, including one in Wales.
She said: “More needs to be done to ensure plastics - this valuable material - is collected and recycled, and that it doesn’t go to literal waste, leaking into our marine and land environments. Bringing together critical stakeholders that commit to concrete actions through platforms such as Rubbish to Resource are going to create that much-needed transformational change. kp are delighted to be a part of it.”
Somerset Waste Partnership Managing Director Mickey Green said: “With 91% of Somerset's recycling already staying in the UK, Somerset Waste Partnership looks forward to continuing to work with Viridor so that even more of our recycling stays in the South West and powers our circular economy."
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said: “As we re-imagine Bristol’s relationship with its waste, we need industry to join us at the front end of the city’s leadership and inspire the region to be smart with its plastics recycling.
"Viridor has already taken a leading role in tackling Bristol’s waste, supporting us to be the top recycling city in England. The West of England is bringing forward the technologies and interventions we need to help create a circular economy, so I am proud to be associated with this exciting project.”
Josh Beech, environmental scientist and founder of the community interest company Nurdle, said: "Whilst Viridor's investment in Avonmouth's polymer plant is a vital step towards developing critical infrastructure to support a circular economy for plastics, the SW Conference demonstrates a true commitment to putting it to work for the region.
"The conference will act as a catalyst for change. The bringing together of stakeholders from every part of the plastics value chain will be instrumental in making the South West a centre of excellence for the management of plastics and the protection of our coasts and environment."
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