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UK high street brands working with Viridor to close the loop

Viridor is working with the majority of the big brands on the high street to ensure product packaging can survive the sortability process and go full-loop at its network of UK specialist polymer recycling facilitates.

This collaboration across the supply chain is becoming increasingly important, especially in view of this week’s Budget announcement of a tax on plastic packaging, which uses less than 30% recycled content, and the forthcoming Waste and Resources Strategy.

Popular consumer brand companies, such as Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, PZ Cussons, Lush and Boots are just a handful of the leading brands Viridor has recently consulted with in a bid to close the loop and drive recycling rates.

Viridor’s Head of Recycling Assets (Polymers & Papers), Jez Blake, said: “Making a product from recyclable material is just one step in a bigger picture of whether a resource can go full-loop.

“Assuming the material goes into the right bin during the collection process, it must then survive a series of sortability stages, otherwise it’s journey could end prematurely and enter the residual waste stream.

“We welcome collaboration with retailers and manufacturers who are looking to ensure their products can go full-loop. We have received items from as much as 70% of the high-street to put through our network of recycling facilities.

“For example, small items, such as bottle lids, can get lost in screens designed to remove glass, and thin plastic can get mistaken for paper.

“Other challenges include composite materials (multiple materials/polymer types), especially those with metal components, which can contaminate metals.

“Even if a product does survive the process, there must be an end commercial market who can make use of the pellets. This can be a problem when everyone is looking to use clear plastics to make their product, even if they are then dyed another colour.

Rochester, which receives waste from MRFs (Materials Recycling Facilities) from around the country and not just Viridor’s network of MRFs, is becoming increasingly recognised as a centre of excellence for plastic innovation.”

The company recently announced its collaboration with major supermarket retailers, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury’s as well as manufacturer Faerch Plast in a bid to find an answer to black plastic, which is commonly invisible to optical sorters.

This is thanks to the most advanced optical sorting facilities at the Rochester Plastics Recycling Facility combined with close collaboration with the supply chain.  This partnership has seen eight million items of black plastic recycled each month since July and the plan is to continue optimising and growing that volume.

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