Morrisons acquires significant stake in a recycling facility

Morrisons has bought a significant stake in a new recycling facility in Fife, Scotland to process hard to recycle soft plastics.

The Bradford-based business which is being acquired by US private equity group Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), will become the first supermarket to own its own recycling operations.

The business already owns 18 of its own food making sites and has now made the commitment to recycle and reuse the equivalent amount of plastic it puts on to the market within its own recycling facilities by 2025.

The new Fife site is the first of its type in the world and is co-owned and being constructed by recycling plant specialists Yes Recycling.

It will turn hard-to-recycle flexible food packaging – including choclate wrappers, crisp packets and food film – into plastic flakes, pellets and boards. At current capacity, the site will take 15,000 of tonnes of flexible plastic packaging a year.

The plastic will be sent to the site from Morrisons distribution sites and by Cireco Scotland who process kerbside collection material.

The supermarket has also confirmed it is looking at ways to use the recycled material from the site for a range of applications, including store fixtures and fittings. While new Ecosheets – environmentally riendly alternatives to plywood – are being manufactured at the site for use in the agriculture and construction industry.

The new site is a major step forward for the British recycling industry and will create around 60 new jobs.

Jamie Winter, procurement director at Morrisons, said: “Lots of work has been done by retailers to reduce plastic, but little to recycle what remains. We’re taking on that challenge and making a significant investment in a state-of-the-art soft plastic recycling site. It’ll take problematic plastics, recycle them here in the UK, and give them a new life. And by 2025 we want to increase our capability to be able to recycle and reuse the equivalent amount of plastic we put out on to the market within our own facilities.”

Omer Kutluoglu, co-owner of Yes Recycling, said: “This is a ground-breaking site which uses new patented plastic recycling technology, which we’ve developed over the last seven years. It is a blueprint for the future and will help to kick-start the UK’s plastics recycling industry. It will mean we can keep plastic in our own country’s ‘circular economy’ and out of our seas and oceans.”

Helen Bird, strategic technical manager in Plastics at WRAP, said: “It’s very encouraging to hear of the investment made by UK Plastics Pact member Morrisons in the Yes Recycling plastic bags and wrapping recycling facility. While we need to reduce unnecessary plastic, when it comes to recycling we need to make it as simple for people as possible. Packaging design needs to be improved and we need to get collection services rolled out across the nation – from people’s homes in the future and from supermarkets in the interim. But ensuring the material is actually remanufactured into new products or packaging is key – that is after all the whole point of recycling.”

In addition to this site, Morrisons has a target of reducing its own brand plastic packaging by 50 and making all own brand plastic packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Since 2017 the supermarket has reduced its own brand plastic packaging by over 8,000 tonnes a year and replaced another 7,000 tonnes so that it is fully recyclable.

Morrisons green credentials have long been engrained in the company with it being the first supermarket to ditch plastic carrier bags in favour of paper carrier bags, to use traditional paper bags for loose fruit and vegetables, and to introduce a refillable container service on fish, meat and deli counters to reduce single-use packaging.