“I’d have paid good money for such a fascinating tour,” one visitor said. “Knowing what happens to a recycled bottle, I will never look at a milk bottle in the same light again,” added another.
Those were just some of the comments from the group of dieters who came on our very first Rubbish Diet tour around Closed Loop Recycling, the world’s first bottle recycling plant to manufacture food grade PET and HDPE polymer. Our dieters were able to learn first hand about what happens to everyday plastic bottles that end up at Dagenham’s state-of-the-art plant. Closed Loop Recycling, founded in 2007, processes 2 million plastic bottles per day to create food grade recycled polymer that is currently valued at £600 – £1,000 per tonne. It creates enough recycled plastic pellets to support 25% of the dairy industry and can be back on the shelves in just three weeks.
Nick Cliffe, the company’s Marketing Manager, shared his passion for plastic, taking us through the carbon chemistry and impressive technology that transforms old bottles into new. But he also explained the role that Closed Loop Recycling has to play in the circular economy. The Dairy Roadmap, a sustainability commitment across the dairy supply chain, which among many aims, is working towards a target of achieving 50% recycled content in HDPE bottles by 2020. Currently the amount of recycled plastic contained in a milk bottle ranges from 10% to 30% so to achieve the 2020 targets, the industry needs more bottles to be recovered within the recycling stream. But co-operation across the supply chain has already made milk bottles easier to recycle: labels are smaller and using less glue, and to colour of milk bottle tops has been lightened to reduce colour contamination in the recycled material. Maybe you’ve already spotted this change on the supermarket shelves?Each batch of product must be guaranteed food safe. Therefore, before it is released to customers the recycled polymer is taken through a Quality Assurance process, with a battery of tests to make sure the plastic is suitable for contact with food. After testing, the recycled polymer is then loaded onto the delivery tanker in a very efficient way. Check out the suction power in this video.
We’d like to thank Closed Loop Recycling for a really fascinating tour and the visitors who spent the day with us and asked such fantastic questions. As one of the group said, knowing what happens to the material and how much the industry needs our support is very empowering. 1,000,000 recyclable bottles a week are sent to landfill in West London alone – so it was no surprise that everyone got behind our campaign to shrink the West London Waste Train. It takes West London’s rubbish to landfill and is 1/3 mile long, it leaves 6 days a week and 67% of it could have been recycled. Let’s make sure more valuable resources are kept out of landfill and form part of the closed loop economy.
If you’d like to do more to increase your recycling and reduce waste, please sign up for our two-step Rubbish Diet challenge today. And if you’d like to find out about our future tours, please do not hesitate to get in touch.