Plastic Park At Protos Artist Impression 2022 Hero

Plans for UK's first Plastic Park approved

Image credit: Peel NRE

Councillors at Cheshire West and Chester Council have unanimously green lit the £165m park to be developed at Protos, the strategic energy and resource hub near Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

It is expected that the £165m park will recycle 367,500 tonnes of plastic, helping to slash carbon emissions on the road to net zero.

Peel NRE, part of Peel L&P, are behind the blueprint, which will feature innovative processing and treatment technologies to make the most of up to 367,500 tonnes of mixed recyclables and plastic every year.

The consent will also see a hydrogen refuelling station developed at the Plastic Park, with the overall scheme set to create 147 new jobs.

Richard Barker, development director at Peel NRE, said: “It’s great to get unanimous backing for the Plastic Park – a UK first that will underpin the circular economy in the North West.

“It’s imperative we deliver creative solutions to the UK’s plastic problem. This project clusters recycling technologies in one place so that we can make the most of a whole range of plastic materials arriving on site, avoiding the need to ship them to different facilities around the region. It’ll mean we can cut down on vehicle movements, create 147 new jobs and deliver essential infrastructure to underpin a North West circular economy that’s much more sustainable.

“We’ve planned Protos as a holistic destination to support the UK on the road to net zero. With the recently announced Protos CO2 network, linking to the proposed regional carbon capture infrastructure, the Plastic Park is just another example of forward-thinking development that responds to the dual-challenge of reducing our waste sent to landfill, whilst cutting carbon emissions.”

Plastic Park At Protos Artist Impression 2022 Inline

Image credit: Peel NRE

The application is the latest in a run of consents at Protos. It follows previous approvals for other facilities at the Plastic Park, including the UK’s first waste 'Plastic to Hydrogen' facility using 'Powerhouse Energy' technology and a PET (polyethylene terephthalate) recycling plant that will take food and beverage packaging, such as plastic bottles, and recycle them for use in making new packaging products.

Peel NRE is responding to the global challenge of dealing with problem plastic, with the UK alone producing around 4.9 million tonnes of annual plastic waste. As well as reducing the need for virgin plastic, the facilities will help save CO2 compared to other treatment routes currently used.

The Park represents part of a major push by the region’s political and business leaders to make the North West the first net-zero region by 2040.

The approved application for the Plastic Park features:

  • A Materials Recycling Facility (MRF): this will separate out dry mixed recyclable materials (such as glass, paper, cans and card) into different waste streams and send them for recycling.
  • Plastics Recycling Facility One (PRF1): plastic from the MRF and mixed plastics arriving pre-sorted to the site will be separated into different plastic types. The separated plastic will either go to PRF2 or the PET recycling plant already consented at Protos.
  • Plastics Recycling Facility Two (PRF2): pre-sorted plastic from PRF1 will be washed and processed into flaked plastic, which can be used to make new plastic products such as food packaging or drinks bottles.
  • Polymer Laminate Recycling Facility: plastic (such as crisp packets and baby food pouches) will be heated, the plastic will break down into an oil for reuse in manufacturing new products with the aluminium recovered for recycling.
  • Hydrogen refuelling station: taking hydrogen from the consented plastic to hydrogen facility to supply up to 1,000kg of hydrogen per day to vehicles, sufficient to fuel approximately 20 HGVs from outside Protos and a similar number of internal HGV movements that will be servicing operations within Protos.

Peel NRE now plans to work with potential operators to bring forward construction on site.

Plastic pollution has become the scourge of the global environment, but there is new research actively committed to finding solutions, including cutting-edge alternatives and engineering innovations in waste management and processing.

Last month, researchers revealed a transparent and biodegradable film made from cellulose that could be used for food packaging to help tackle the world’s microplastic problem.

Meanwhile, University of Queensland researchers identified a species of worm with an appetite for polystyrene that could be the key to plastic recycling on a mass scale. The common Zophobas morio ‘superworm’ can eat through polystyrene, thanks to a bacterial enzyme in their gut.

The need to recover and recycle much more plastic was highlighted in May this year by the makers of Ribena and Lucozade, who said that Europe will need three times more recycled plastic if all soft drinks manufacturers are to make the switch to using recycled plastic bottles.

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