As a brand that is determined to be at the forefront of global plastic recycling, we have a reputation for creating impactful plastic recycling solutions in Australia, Asia, Finland and Turkey. This reputation, coupled with our vast knowledge of the changes in the global plastics industry meant that we recognised, early on, the opportunity in the UK for our solutions to meet manufacturers requirements and the upstream pressure that is being placed on them by brands.
The plastic industry has recently had a harsh spotlight cast upon it; the release of The Blue Planet documentary rightfully whipped up a media frenzy when it came to the volume of plastic that was entering the ocean, and the on-going environmental and social impacts taking place as a result of this practice.
This release coincided with the change of the Chinese waste import policy. For the past 20 years China has been the biggest importer of global plastic waste, welcoming high-quality plastic scrap as a commodity to fuel the economic boom that has seen China become the second largest economy in the world.
As a manufacturing hub of the world, the material was profitably repurposed into products such as televisions, shoes, photo frames, pipes, clothing and cars.
China Shuts Its Doors to 24 Grades of Plastic
However, the Chinese Government faced a challenging social development from its public when it came to its environmental policies, leading to them embarking on a comprehensive anti-pollution campaign. Ultimately, this meant closing its doors to the majority of waste importation by banning 24 different grades of waste in 2016.
Earlier this year, we used Government and industry data to calculate that approximately 350,000 tonnes of UK plastic would go un-recycled due to the lack of alternative markets in 2018.
While other global markets have begun to open up, there has been a clear need for the UK infrastructure to be developed when it came to plastics recycling, the changes in China were a catalyst. There is a growing demand, ultimately coming from consumers, for brands to sell products that contain recycled material, and this pressure filters down to manufacturers to source this material, and offer complete transparency on where the supply has come from.
Recycling Anywhere But At Source is a Waste of Resources
It’s logical for plastic to be recycled at source, where the waste is being generated, anything less than that is wasting resources; the recycling of UK plastic MUST take place within the UK.
In order for Vanden Recycling to keep ahead of the curve following the changes to the Asian markets and help to shape the future of UK plastic recycling, we opened our UK recycling plant in Whittlesey, Peterborough, in February 2017, and its success led us to quickly plan for the next stage of UK expansion.
Over the last 18 months, the UK Recycling Plant has gone from strength to strength, we have created 20 jobs in the local community and with the shifts we have began to see in the awareness around plastics recycling, we expect this to increase this by employing another 15-20 members of staff.
Investing In Equipment That Accelerates Output
In order to support our growth plans; we invested in equipment that would accelerate output. The processing facility has seen a new reprocessing line installed, doubling the capacity of the plant to five metric tonnes per hour.
This new line features quicker blade changes and more effective processing. While this new equipment offers wide capability, it will predominantly process Polypropylene (PP) and Polyethylene (HDPE); our goal is to double our annual output at the site by utilising the new line alongside the three existing lines which are processing ABS, PET, PS & PVC
As this awareness gathers pace due to growing consumer pressure, Vandens’ UK growth strategy will see us become an influential voice within the plastics industry recycling in the UK.
The level of expertise within the business in unprecedented, with the executive team from Australia and Asia leading the way with UK recycling and plastics experts David Wilson, Stephen Fieldhouse and business development managers, who are specialists within their respective verticals.
Plastic Recycling Will Transform the Manufacturing Industries
There is still very little awareness when it comes to the sheer scope that plastic recycling can offer a wide range of industries. The legacy service for many manufacturers is largely centred on waste management, whose players are unable to provide the increased level of service, transparency and education when it comes to the field of plastics recycling.
There is a misconception that plastic is a ‘bad’ material, however in reality, we treating plastic in the wrong way.
Our new growth strategy will see us begin to work with firms at a consultative level. Partnering with manufacturers in sectors such as bottling, thermoforming, packaging and sheet extrusion in this way, will enable us to use our expertise to advise on the materials and internal processes that can be altered to improve their plastic recycling initiative. Areas such as scrap plastic segregation, staff training, onsite equipment such as Balers & Stillages and audit trail and compliance traceability.
Ultimately, we want to use our expertise, resources and plastic recycling facility to prove to manufacturers that plastic isn’t a waste material, but a resource that can be used time and time again, and that plastic recycling should be an integral part of the supply chain.
A Bold New Rebrand
A large part of our growth strategy is the bold new company rebrand, reflecting our approach to the industry. The recycling sector is perceived as out-dated, secretive and corporate, Vanden breaks this trend and we need to outwardly reflect this.
Red is honest, bold and straightforward, representing the people within Vanden and our ambitions; we want to be known as a business that provides real insights and information, not lip service that we think people want to hear.
Our extensive investment in the Vanden UK growth strategy sees us working towards our goal of processing 2,000MT of recycled plastic each month by 2020, and ultimately producing a product directly from our material to be sold direct to consumers. With the increasing awareness when it comes to plastics recycling and the growing demands being placed on manufacturers, we envisage the industry to accelerate quickly.