Packaging manufacturer Faerch Plast has partnered with major British retailers, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, and waste management company Viridor to recycle black plastic.

The project aims to create a circular economy solution through which the partners intend to bring back recycled black plastic into new food grade packaging.

Beginning next month, the project will recycle black plastic, with an initial target of 120t per month, before gradually increasing the recycling capacity.

“This global leading scheme has the potential to mean the UK exports less of its waste.”

The partners will use Viridor’s specialist plastics recycling facility at Rochester in Kent as a centre of excellence for the initiative.

UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “This global leading scheme has the potential to mean the UK exports less of its waste, could divert huge amounts of plastic away from landfill and prevent virgin plastic entering the market in the first place.”

For Viridor, the project is in line with the goals of the UK Plastics Pact, of which the company was a founding signatory.

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The Pact is an industry initiative that aims to eliminate unwanted single-use plastic by 2025.

Viridor commercial director Paul Ringham said: “The project team, working together since January, has proven that black plastic from household mixed recycling can be recycled into high quality mixed coloured ‘jazz’ flakes to create food grade packaging.

“The breakthrough took place at two Viridor facilities, the plastics recycling facility at Rochester, which is one of the most advanced optical sorting facilities in the UK, and the polymers reprocessing plant at Skelmersdale in Lancashire which takes recycled plastic and creates flakes and pellets to be used in the manufacturing process.”

The company will put the material through the new process developed by the project partners.

It will add black plastic to the coloured plastic stream already recycled.

The recycled plastic will be used to develop new packaging products for M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

The project will leverage the sustained demand for the recycled material from the retailers.