The UK’s leading national recycling and waste management provider, Biffa, received planning approval from Durham County Council last night (Tuesday 5th February) for a £15m plastics recycling plant near Seaham.

Biffa will make use of a 130,000 sq ft vacant warehouse at Foxcover Distribution Park to create a polymer processing plant capable of recycling more than one billion plastics drinks bottles a year. The facility will be in operation 24/7, processing 3 million bottles a day into new food and drink packaging and creating around 70 new full-time jobs.

Now planning approval has been granted by Durham County Council, construction is expected to begin on site in Summer 2019, with the first commissioning trials scheduled for December.

The Seaham site is Biffa’s latest investment in the UK’s recycling infrastructure and will double the company’s recycling capacity for plastic bottles. Currently, its flagship Redcar plant processes around 18,000 tonnes of recycled High Density Polyethylene (rHDPE) a year to create milk bottles and food trays. It was the first facility of its kind to do so.

Mick Davis, managing director of resource, recovery and treatment at Biffa, said: “The UK currently uses around a 13.5 billion plastic bottles a year but can only process half of this, with the rest diverted to landfill or overseas. This new site represents an exciting opportunity to boost our recycling capacity here at home and supports the country’s long-term plan to find new ways to reuse plastics, as detailed in DEFRA’s recent Resource & Waste Strategy.

“Our proposals for the Seaham plant were the result of months of careful consideration and we are keen to build on our already excellent reputation for recycling in the north east. We are delighted Durham County Council recognised the importance of this site to the region, as well as the wider waste industry, and we now look forward to seeing these plans come to life.”