recycled plastic pellets

Viridor, Unilever to partner on plastics recycling

Viridor to supply Unilever with recycled plastics under five-year contract.

November 25, 2019

The U.K.-based waste and recycling company Viridor and the consumer products company Unilever, headquartered in London, have signed a five-year contract under which Viridor will supply recycled plastics from its Avonmouth Resource Recovery Centre to the consumer products company.


Viridor Resource Management Managing Director Keith Trower says, “Viridor and Unilever are committed to helping the U.K. achieve its recycling and sustainability targets, and this contract demonstrates how we are translating that ambition in action.

“To do this in a meaningful way, Viridor has acknowledged the U.K. plastic reprocessing capacity gap and our Avonmouth investment is our response to that market demand. By putting more recycled plastic back into the economy and powering that process with nonrecyclable waste, we are creating a sustainable solution and ensuring consumer brands, such as Unilever, have access to quality postconsumer recycled material.”

He continues, “Crucially, this contract also recognizes the relationship between U.K. Plastics Pact partners and how such collaboration is vital if we are to achieve closed-loop recycling solutions and achieve the Pact’s goals of 30 percent average recycled content across all plastic packaging by 2025.”

Sebastian Munden, Unilever U.K. & Ireland general manager, says, “Unilever has committed to increase its use of recycled plastic and close the loop on plastic packaging.

“Limited availability of high-quality recycled content has, though, remained a challenge, and that’s why we’re so pleased that our collaboration with Viridor will bring extra capacity online in the U.K. This will be essential towards creating a more circular market, as well as contributing to the U.K. Plastic Pact targets."

Viridor Managing Director Phil Piddington says the Avonmouth plant is a crucial part of the company’s circular economy commitments and an important next step in its plastic recycling strategy.

“The unique design of the site -- incorporating sophisticated energy recovery and recycling technology --  allows for the transfer of power and heat to serve the recycling and reprocessing site, creating a truly resource and energy-efficient waste management solution," Piddington says. 

“Reprocessed plastic uses 50 percent less electricity than virgin plastic, which is already a very persuasive argument in favor of recycled materials," he continues. "When we reduce our energy consumption further by tapping into the low carbon power created through energy recovery, we can achieve even greater sustainability and environmental efficiency.”

Viridor and Unilever have worked together with Nextek Ltd. on detectable black plastic packaging for Unilever’s TRESemmé and Lynx personal care brands, with trials carried out at Viridor’s Rochester Polymers Recycling Facility in Kent.  

In year one, Viridor says its multipolymer plant at Avonmouth will produce 60,0000 metric tons of recycled plastic per year from 81,000 metric tons of feedstock, rising to 89,000 metric tons in year three, for total production of  63,000 metric tons of recycled plastics.  

The plant will be powered by diverting 320,000 metric tons of waste from landfill, generating 282 gigawatt hours of electricity, which is the equivalent energy used to power 77,000 homes.