Unanimous approval for UK’s first Plastic Park at Protos

Plans for the Protos site

Plans for the UK’s first Plastic Park have been approved.

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

Peel NRE, part of Peel L&P, is 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 refueling station developed at the Plastic Park, with the overall scheme set to create 147 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.”

He added: “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.”

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 the pioneering 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 producing some 4.9 million tonnes of annual plastic waste. As well as reducing the need for virgin plastic, the facilities will help save CO2 compared with other treatment routes currently used.

It’s 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 features:

  • A Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) – which 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 aluminum recovered for recycling.
  • Hydrogen refueling station – taking hydrogen from the consented plastic to hydrogen facility to supply up to 1000kg 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.

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