(Photo credit: Biffa)

Chemical recycling

Hard to recycle PET grades: Biffa to join pioneering Poseidon Project

| Global themes | Biffa | High Wycombe | United Kingdom

Biffa, the UK’s leading sustainable waste management company, is pleased to announce its involvement in the Poseidon Project, a cross-industry initiative aiming to create a process to chemically recycle harder grades of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) material.

The project, which has recently received £3.4 million of funding from UK Research and Innovation, will be a collaboration between critical members of the PET supply chain and aims to demonstrate how chemical recycling can be used to recycle certain grades of PET that are harder to recycle. Other parties involved include Poseidon Plastics, Dupont Teijin Films, Alpek, GRN and O’Neills. The project is set to start early in 2021.

Joining the project marks Biffa’s latest step in leading the way to achieving a more sustainable future for the UK, through innovating and investing in recycling infrastructure. Earlier this year, Biffa opened the first stage of its state of the art £27.5m rPET recycling facility in Seaham, capable of processing the equivalent of 1.3bn plastic bottles each year. Biffa’s new recycling plant in Seaham will play a critical role in the Poseidon Project.

At the Seaham site, Biffa will separate out the difficult to recycle PET plastics, such as coloured PET and trays and supply this feedstock for the project. At a new facility in the North East designed to demonstrate the chemical recycling process, Poseidon Plastics will use its chemical glycolysis technology to break down the PET waste, removing colours and other materials to produce the final product, called BHET. The BHET can then be transformed to produce a virgin plastic-like material that can be recycled time and time again, and which can be used in plastic bottles, fibres and film applications.

Poseidon designed and trialled a 50-500kg plant which is being upscaled to a 15,000-tonne demonstrator plant, and Biffa will be providing the feedstock to this 15,000-tonne plant, playing its part in increasing the UK’s overall recycling capacity infrastructure.

Mick Davis, Chief Operating Officer for the Resources & Energy Division, said “The Poseidon Project has the potential to become a meaningful building block in expanding the UK’s recycling infrastructure, to create a more sustainable future. This is a great example of the circular economy in action with stakeholders from across the supply chain being involved. We are also proud that this is another activity in the North East which further supports the country’s Northern Powerhouse. We’re delighted to be involved in this transformational project which will hopefully demonstrate a sustainable way to recycle challenging grades of PET plastic.”