Originally a scrap business, founder Jonathan Short spotted a gap in the market and began processing the large amounts of post-consumer plastics in the waste stream.Today the company operates the world’s largest and most sophisticated recycling plant, capable of sorting 150,000 tonnes of mixed plastics per year – incredibly, around 35 per cent of the total collected in the UK every year. Based in Lincolnshire, ECO’s state-of-the-art plant employs 20 optical and infra-red sorters to produce 11 different streams of plastic, in a process that is virtually zero waste. ECO Plastics’ achieved a significant milestone in March 2011, when it announced a ground-breaking partnership with Coca-Cola Enterprises to create its Continuum joint venture. The £125m agreement is the first time that the recycling and beverage industries have committed to a long-term partnership, with used packaging returning to UK shelves within six weeks. In total, the facility had processed more than 500m bottles within a year of first opening its doors. The deal has been a game changer for UK recycling. Where the industry has traditionally limited itself to buying and selling material on the spot market, Continuum has demonstrated the value of long-term partnerships. Having invested more than £30m to quadruple its processing capacity and triple the plant footprint, ECO Plastics is leading a campaign to move the wider industry to similar long-term contracts. ECO Plastics’ turnover increased from £18.5m in 2010 to £47m in 2013. It’s a trailblazer in the development of a truly sustainable 360-degree domestic and international waste market.
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