The Wilton Centre is the focus of a major recruitment campaign to select a team to operate a global first recycling plant.
ReNew ELP announced last year that it had chosen the Stockton-based specialist px Group to run and maintain the plant which will recycle waste plastics which up until now have been considered unrecyclable. These include multi-material films and flexible plastics as well rigid products such as pots, tubs and trays.
After weeks of interviews at the Wilton Centre the majority of more than 30 operational roles have been filled. Meanwhile ReNew ELP has confirmed that the plant, on the neighbouring Wilton International site, is shortly to enter the commissioning phase. It will initially produce 20,000 tonnes per year of fossil-equivalent hydrocarbons from plastic waste every year, with plans to expand the site once this initial line is up and running.
Claire Morton, Wilton Centre’s Leasing and Assistant Asset Manager, said: “We’re proud to be playing a role in such an important project. We’ve followed and supported ReNew ELP ever since it moved here more than four years ago and it’s great to see that their hard work is coming to fruition.”
The plant will be the first in the world on a commercial scale to use a specially-developed process called HydroPRS™, which returns waste plastics into the oils from which they were originally formed. These low carbon, fossil-equivalent hydrocarbon products can then be used in the manufacture of new plastics and other products. There is no limit to the number of times the same plastic can be recycled via HydroPRS™, creating a circular economy and replacing the need for fossil feedstock in the manufacture of new plastics.
A recent independent Life Cycle Assessment by Warwick Manufacturing Group – the research and education group at the University of Warwick – showed that products made via HydroPRS™ had an equal or lower carbon footprint than their fossil equivalents and that for every tonne of waste plastics recycled via HydroPRS™, nearly two tonnes of CO2 avoided release into the atmosphere when compared to incineration, the fate of much of the UK’s ‘unrecyclable’ plastic waste. Contracts are in place to both supply the plant with waste plastic and take away the liquids produced during the recycling process.
Antony Myrddin-Baker, px Group Plant Manager, said: “We chose to recruit at the Wilton Centre because of the proximity of ReNew ELP and the new plant, but also because it is very much at the hub of new circular economies being developed in Teesside.”
Antony said px received more than 700 applications and he was delighted with the calibre of the candidates. “There have been some tough decisions but we’re really happy with the balance of the team. They’re from right across the board – men and women, people with more than 25 years of experience and even people who have just finished their apprenticeships.”
The award-winning px Group is more than a quarter of a century old and is a fully integrated infrastructure solutions business which delivers innovative management services for high hazard and highly regulated environments. px Group also owns the Saltend Chemicals Park at the heart of the UK’s Energy Estuary in the Humber, which is home to several world-leading manufacturing businesses such as Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, INEOS, and Vivergo Fuels.
ReNew ELP is now wholly owned by UK-based HydroPRS™ owner Mura Technology. It employs more than 60 staff, including those dedicated to the Wilton project, and has brought £150m investment into the UK. In 2020, ReNew ELP was awarded a £4.42m grant from Innovate UK – the UK’s innovation agency – to help build the plant.
Richard Daley, Mura Technology’s Chief Technology Officer and Managing Director at ReNew ELP, said: “As px approach the end of their recruitment process, they will continue to support us in moving towards commissioning and commercial operation. There will be a huge feeling of achievement from all members of our team and appreciation of the role that px, as well as the Wilton Centre, have played in bringing such an innovative and important project to completion here in Teesside. Construction and operation of the site draws on a skilled local workforce and the launch of this world-first site will highlight the area as being at the forefront of innovative, sustainable plastic recycling”.
Mura already has plants in development in Germany and the US and has sold licenses for the technology to Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation in Japan and LG Chem and GC Caltex, both in South Korea.