Press Release: Bright Green Plastics has Soft Polymer Reprocessing in the Bag

For a while, supermarkets have provided facilities to collect customers’ used ‘soft’ plastics for recycling. This includes carrier bags, bread packaging, breakfast cereal liners, bubble wrap, frozen food bags, toilet roll wrapping and even clean cling film.  

This is great for customers wanting to dispose of their flexible plastics responsibly, particularly as most local councils will not accept this type of waste, but not so good for the supermarkets wishing to pass it on for recycling. With historical high costs and intensive labour involved in segregating and reprocessing the materials, the recycling industry has generally classed soft plastics as in the “not easy to recycle” category and have heavily relied on sending it overseas.

Leading Yorkshire-based plastic recycling firm, Bright Green Plastics, which reprocesses over 40,000 tonnes of rigid plastics for packaging and product manufacturing each year, has developed the technology to recycle flexible plastic and set to recycle it back into plastic packaging.

In developing the technology over the past year, the research and development team at Bright Green has been meticulously characterising and testing flexible plastic samples from supermarkets, like plastic bags, bread bags, salad bags, cheese and delivery bags. During this process, the team has analysed a wide variety of waste polymers to inform the development of a unique process that allows the firm to granulate and blend soft plastics with existing feedstocks. 

The technology has been designed to bypass the expensive, labour intensive and highly unfeasible sorting of flexible plastics, where typical near-infrared spectroscopic scanners are ineffective due to the light weight and ‘floatiness’ of the material.

The firm, which was named Plastic Recycling Business of the Year and at the Awards for Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management 2021, will begin testing the industry-changing technology throughout November ‘21, with a view to introducing soft plastics to feedstocks from early 2022.

Jonathan Attwood, Product Formulation Manager, comments: “The ultimate aim with this is to establish an additional feedstock avoiding perfectly good soft plastics being wasted. This traceable process occurs on one site within the UK, reducing the CO2 impact of sorting and shipping abroad. The research and development team within our business is working tirelessly to come-up with ways to keep valuable plastic out of landfill and incinerators, and it’s extremely exciting, for us and our stakeholders, to see our efforts come to fruition.” 

Managing Director, Steve Spencer, adds: “We have found a way to circumnavigate the restrictive sorting and processing costs that was, frustratingly, blocking progress in the recycling of soft plastics – which, let’s face it, makes up a huge percentage of plastic waste in this country.

“We’re proud to be known as innovators in our industry, and this is just the latest ground-breaking development from Bright Green Plastics as we continue to drive change and growth in UK plastic reprocessing.”