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Calling it a first for the UK recycling and beverage industries, Coca-Cola Enterprises and plastic recycler Eco Plastics have established a recycling facility in the U.K. dedicated to processing both PET plastic bottles and other polymers simultaneously.

Heather Caliendo

May 17, 2012

3 Min Read
Green bottles: Coca-Cola and Eco Plastics joint recycling venture opens in the UK

Calling it a first for the UK recycling and beverage industries, Coca-Cola Enterprises and plastic recycler Eco Plastics have established a recycling facility in the U.K. dedicated to processing both PET plastic bottles and other polymers simultaneously.

The joint venture, known as Continuum Recycling Limited, is a U.S. $24 million (Euro 18.7 million) recycling facility predicted to increase the amount of bottle-grade rPET currently produced in the UK to more than 75,000 tonnes a year.

AM_706x264_eco_plastic_0.jpgA Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) spokesperson told PlasticsToday the purpose-built recycling facility will more than double the amount of rPET produced in Great Britain.

Previously, Coca‑Cola had sourced recycled plastic from Europe, while around two-thirds of used plastics packaging was exported for reprocessing.

Traditionally it has not always been possible to source the desired quantity and quality of rPET, the CCE spokespeson said. So the decision was made to invest in a system capable of delivering a step-change in bottle-to-bottle recycling in Great Britain.

"This investment will ensure that more plastic bottles will be processed for recycling in Great Britain, rather than being exported to locations around the world," the spokesperson said. "The used British packaging will be recycled at this new recycling plant for re-use in packaging that will then be sold right here in Britain."

As part of its wider sustainability program, CCE pledged to recover the equivalent of 100% of its packaging through its reduce, reuse, and recycle program by 2020. This includes the goal of ensuring all of its PET packaging in Great Britain will feature 25% rPET by the end of 2012.

CCE chose to partner with Eco Plastics because of its presence in the recycling business.

"Eco Plastics was already Europe's largest recycler of mixed plastic bottles, with the most sophisticated bottle sorting facility in Great Britain, so it can comfortably handle the mix of plastics collected across the U.K.," the CCE spokesperson said. "This is important to ensure that CCE produces high quality rPET that meets its quality standards."

ECO Plastics accepts various polymer streams, and the facility will use Buhler Sortex, Titech, and Eriez sorting systems.

DEFRA (UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Waste Minister, Lord Henley stated, "This investment builds on the public's enthusiasm for recycling and will make it easier for them to buy recycled plastic products such as the famous Coca‑Cola bottle."

2012 Olympics

The Continuum partnership is part of CCE's investment in a variety of sustainable packaging initiatives, which includes a commitment to help London stage a sustainable Olympic Games this summer. As part of this, Coca-Cola has committed to recycle all soft drinks bottles that are disposed of at Olympic and Paralympic venues and return into new bottles within six weeks.

"Coca-Cola is working with LOCOG (London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) to ensure london-olympic-games-2012-asportsnews.jpgLondon 2012 is the most sustainable Games possible and a zero waste games," the spokesperson said.

To achieve this, LOCOG's waste partner, Sita, will sort the contents of these bins and then the bottles will be taken to Continuum Recycling where they will be processed into food-grade rPET flake. This will then be transported to one of Coca-Cola Enterprises' six UK manufacturing sites and will be turned back into new bottles. Coca-Cola estimates 80 million new bottles will be created as a result.

"Sustainability is essential to CCE as a business," the spokesperson said. "The new Continuum Recycling facility is a great asset, and one of a number of initiatives helping the business to achieve this goal."

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