A planning application has been submitted for a new plastics upcycling plant that will create 100 jobs in Sunderland and handle plastic materials that are not currently recycled in the UK.

Quantafuel is applying for permission to build a plastics processing plant on a 12-acre site on the eastern edge of Port of Sunderland. It will be the first plant of its kind in the UK, chemically recycling plastic waste to produce a substitute oil for fossil oil, reducing CO2emissions by around 50% compared to incineration. This oil can be used to produce new, high-quality products.

Quantafuel has submitted the planning application after holding consultation events in the local community and distributing leaflets to thousands of homes, inviting members of the community to find out more about the plans. Last month, Quantafuel signed an option agreement with Sunderland City Council, which means that Quantafuel has first option to develop the land.

Cllr Claire Rowntree, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, said the council had worked hard to attract investment into the port and was excited about the development of new, low carbon businesses on the site, which will boost the UK’s circular economy.

“The port is key to the city’s development plans and we continue to invest in it to develop our rail, road, and sea links, which are vital to attracting such global investment. We look forward to working with Quantafuel as it develops its plans through the planning process.”

A long-term, sustainable alternative to incineration and landfill

Lars Rosenløv, CEO of Quantafuel, said: “New facilities are needed to help deal with plastic waste and we can offer a long-term, sustainable alternative to incineration and landfill that will provide significant environmental benefits, whilst also creating new jobs in Sunderland.”

“We have considered our plans in detail and have consulted widely with the community and are delighted to have now submitted a planning application. We look forward to further engagement with the community during the summer as we await the outcome of the planning decision in autumn.”

The proposal

Subject to planning permission, Quantafuel is planning to have the plastics recycling plant operational in 2024, creating around 100 new, long-term jobs. It will also support around 200 jobs during construction and create training and apprenticeship opportunities for the local community.

Once approved, the facility will be designed to process around 100,000 tonnes of low value plastic waste, such as soft food packaging and a variety of domestic and industrial plastics.

By using a pyrolysis process, it will transform the plastic waste into raw materials that can be used again in the production of high-grade plastic. Currently, this waste is sent to landfill or incinerated.

The raw materials produced will be shipped from the port to customers in the petrochemical industry, while gas produced will be used to power the plant.