By Rebecca Bird
LONDON — A new partnership may see more than half a billion US dollars (£400 million) invested in 10 recycling facilities across the United Kingdom over the coming years in a bid to tackle the plastic waste crisis.
Renewable and alternative energy company Clean Planet Energy announced a joint venture with Luxembourg-based private equity firm Crossroads Real Estate on Nov. 15.
They are funding Clean Planet Energy’s flagship ecoPlant currently under construction in Teesside, northeast England.
This will be the first of 10 new green, advanced recycling facilities that the two firms are jointly seeking to build and operate across the UK.
Potential sites have already been identified in Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire and South Wales, with further locations and announcements to be made in the months ahead.
Bertie Stephens, group CEO of Clean Planet Energy, said: “Clean Planet Energy’s mission is to remove over one million tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste from our environment, every year.
“This exciting partnership gives us the capacity to make a significant dent in this target.”
He added: “We’re now reaching out to local councils and private partners across the UK who could benefit from a reduction in plastic waste entering their landfill.”
Clean Planet Energy’s ecoPlant is intended to process non-recyclable and hard-to-recycle waste plastics that would otherwise be sent to landfill. Each facility is designed to accept 20,000 tonnes of plastics each year.
It will convert this waste into ultra-low sulfur diesel to replace fossil fuels in the transport and heavy-machinery sectors.
Clean Planet Energy’s diesel can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75% compared to the use of traditional diesel.
In addition, the plant will convert waste plastics into petrochemical feedstock like naphtha which can be used to make new plastic products without using fossil-based feedstock.
This means that over 200,000 tonnes of hard-to-recycle waste plastics will be re-purposed for use in the circular supply chain each year.
David Gillerman, founding partner and CEO of Crossroads Real Estate, said: “The negative impact of plastic waste on our environment, plus the challenges we face from excess carbon emissions, made the joint venture with Clean Planet Energy a very compelling opportunity.
“With this investment, we have the ability to make a significant environmental and social impact across the UK.”
The news comes as COP27 is currently underway and where world leaders are seeking solutions to reduce global GHG emissions and plastic pollution.
Data from 2021 shows that the UK still generates over two million tonnes of plastic waste each year, with well over 60% of this not suitable for recycling.
In November 2022, the UK government’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee published a report focusing on accelerating the reduction of plastic waste, with advanced recycling identified as a key policy recommendation.
Earlier this year, Clean Planet Energy announced a 10-year agreement with global energy company bp plc to off-take its circular products from its ecoPlants into the market.
Each new ecoPlant will be able to process hard-to-recycle plastics in the UK.
At their peak, the facilities should create more than 750 direct jobs, and thousands of indirect jobs when they move from development into construction and operation phases.
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