Unanimous approval for UK’s first Plastics Park at Protos, Cheshire

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Image of the Plastics Park at Protos

Landmark plans for the UK’s first plastics park were unanimously approved by Councillors at Cheshire West and Chester Council on 5 July 2022. Axis prepared the planning application and Environmental Impact Assessment for 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, are behind the blueprint, which will feature innovative processing and treatment technologies to recycle and recover value from up to 367,500 tonnes of mixed recyclables and plastic every year. The consent will also see a hydrogen refuelling station developed at the Plastics Park, with the overall scheme set to create 147 new jobs.

Andrew Russell, Director

Andrew Russell, Director at Axis, said: “We’re delighted at this next step towards solving the plastic problem, and this development will support the North West achieve its NetZero targets and boost the regional economy.”

“The application is the latest in a run of consents we’ve achieved for Protos at the Plastics Park. Successes include 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.”

Artist’s impression of Plastics Park

Richard Barker, Development Director at Peel NRE, part of Peel L&P, said:  “It’s great to get unanimous backing for the Plastics 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. 

“We’ve planned Protos as a holistic destination to support the UK on the road to NetZero. With the recently announced Protos CO2 network, linking to the proposed regional carbon capture infrastructure, the Plastics Park is just another example of forward-thinking development that responds to dual-challenge of reducing our waste sent to landfill, whilst cutting carbon emissions.” 

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 to other treatment routes currently used. 

It’s all 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.  

Artist’s impression of Plastics Park

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 aluminium recovered for recycling.  
  • Hydrogen refuelling 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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