Global Recycling Day aims to put the issue of recycling firmly on the global agenda. And why not? Sustainably managing our waste and protecting the world’s precious resources is an issue that affects everyone. However, while this is a global issue, the solutions lie more locally.  

At an individual level, of course, we need to be thinking about reducing the amount of waste we produce in the first place, re-using what we can and aiming to recycle as much as possible from what’s left.  

This is especially important for plastics, which it is estimated use up to 8% of the world’s oil to produce. Reducing our country’s dependence on single-use plastics is a given but we’re not going to be able to eliminate all plastics from society overnight. In many instances they will continue to be the most sustainable and cost-effective option. The COVID pandemic served to highlight the importance of plastic in the medical sector and in the automotive sector lightweight plastic parts in cars help to reduce fuel consumption. 

Local communities need a solution for plastic waste that’s simple and that maximises the recycling and recovery of materials. That’s where our Plastic Parks come in. At Protos, part of Peel NRE, we’ve developed a vision for Plastic Parks across the UK which will cluster together complementary and innovative technology solutions to prevent waste plastic ending up in landfill, incinerators, exported overseas or in the ocean. The Plastic Park will take a wide range of plastic and get value from it, maximising recycling and using what’s left to create hydrogen, electricity or break the plastic back into its component parts to make other products – thereby reducing the use of natural resources 

Two facilities at the Plastic Park have already received planning consent – the UK’s first waste plastic to hydrogen facility using pioneering Powerhouse Energy technology and a PET (polyethylene terephthalate) recycling facility that will take mixed plastics, and produce sustainable recycled material for food packaging. In addition, we’re looking to build a Materials Recycling Facility (to sort plastic from other waste streams), two Plastic Recycling Facilities (to sort the plastic into different types) and a polymer laminate recycling facility (for items such as baby and pet food pouches). We’re also proposing to bring forward a hydrogen refuelling station to take hydrogen from the plastic to hydrogen facility which will supply local HGVs.  

Being able to take such a wide range of mixed plastic means we can provide a one-stop-shop for local councils and ensure we maximise the amount of plastic that can be recycled. The Plastic Park at Protos could treat up to 367,500 tonnes of mixed recyclables and plastic every year, saving 170,000 tonnes of CO2. Our vision is for a network of Plastic Parks across the UK which can provide a local solution to waste plastic using a range of technologies that are tailored to each location. This will allow us to contribute to the development of a circular economy, starting here in the North West.