Plastic fantastic

Funding of over £3m has been announced for four projects, comprising a new plastics recycling partnership, Project Beacon, which is reported to have the potential to recycle all plastics in Scotland and beyond – even those that currently can’t be recycled.

Project Beacon, at Binn Farm in Perthshire, is said to be ‘lighting the way’ to a circular world of complete plastics recycling thanks to new technologies and an innovative integrated approach. It is backed by £1.7m from Zero Waste Scotland’s Circular Economy Investment Fund (with around another £1.7m leveraged form the private sector) – supported by the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund.

Scotland’s Environment Secretary visited Project Beacon recently to see progress on the new state-of-the art recycling centre, which brings together a group of recycling firms: PI Polymer Recycling along with Recycling Technologies and Impact Recycling, with Binn Group signed on as supply chain partners.

The system they’re developing is said to use new separation systems to support mechanical recycling, fused with a ‘game-changing’ chemical feedstock recycling process. This includes a patented process based on thermal cracking, which recycles end-of-life plastic waste that typically cannot be recycled using mechanical methods – for example, mixed, laminated, black, film and even contaminated plastic waste, as well as hard plastics. This new process reportedly produces a range of chemical constituents that can be used to create new virgin plastics, or other chemical products. It’s intended that this first demonstration facility will be up and running later this year.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “Initiatives like Project Beacon have the potential to be potentially ground-breaking as they are finding new uses and economic potential for hard-to-recycle plastics which could make a significant contribution to reducing waste and increase recycling.

“Project Beacon’s ethos and partnership approach supports our work to tackle Scotland’s throwaway culture which includes our commitment to a deposit return scheme and the recent appointment of an expert panel to look at single-use items.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “I am delighted not only that our financial support is helping create a potentially world-leading recycling facility here in Scotland, but that Zero Waste Scotland’s expertise has been instrumental in bringing it about. Project Beacon has the potential to transform plastics recycling in Scotland and beyond, and at a time when people are increasingly concerned about the impact of plastics dumped in our environment, I’m excited to watch this circular economy business grow and develop.”

The £18million Circular Economy Investment Fund, administered by Zero Waste Scotland, offers investment for SMEs based in Scotland and supports work that will deliver circular economy growth. It is supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the £73million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.