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Biffa Polymers

Case study // Plastic fantastic


Plastic is a lightweight, durable and adaptable material with benefits for the economy and our lives. It can help reduce food waste, save fuel and cut CO2 emissions as it is light to transport, and save on energy bills when used in high-performance insulation materials.

Supporting sustainable plastics

We think plastic is such a useful resource that we pioneered a sustainable industry-wide model for HDPE plastic milk bottles, working along the supply chain to change the design of the bottles to make them much more recyclable. “Where labels were once paper and glued on, now they’re plastic shrink sleeves designed to fall off easily in the recycling process,” explains Biffa Polymer's Commercial Director Chris Hanlon. “Not only that, but the redesigned bottles are thinner and use 15% less plastic.”

In 2008 Biffa Polymers was developed as the world’s first food-grade rHDPE milk bottle facility, a move recognised with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Innovation a year later. The facility now processes around 18,000 tonnes of food-grade rHDPE for new milk bottles.

A clear vision for the future

Having led the evolution of milk bottle recycling, we invested in a further £40.5 million into two additional plastic recycling facilities in Seaham and Washington.

Our Biffa Polymers facility at Seaham in Durham opened in 2020 and is the most technically advanced PET facility globally, capable of recycling more than a billion plastic drinks bottles a year. The 24/7 operation processes three million bottles a day into plastic pellets for new food and drinks packaging.

Biffa Polymers in Washington is due to open in the near future and, like our facility in Redcar, will process HDPE plastic used to make milk bottles and increase our capacity by 50%.

Our commitment to building a circular economy

In the last five years, we have invested over £54.5m in plastics recycling infrastructure with plans to quadruple our plastic recycling capacity by 2030, taking our overall plastic recycling capacity to 155,000 tonnes each year.

The extended capacity of HDPE recycling will benefit packaging producers in the UK, who from 2022 will be required to use at least 30% recycled plastic in their products to avoid the new plastic packaging tax. It is estimated an extra 36,000 tonnes of recycled HDPE will be needed to meet demand.

0 4.5 billion

plastic bottles are used in the UK every year


of plastic bottles are collected and recycled


of all milk bottles in the UK include plastic from Biffa Polymers

Martin Nobes - Head of New Business

Martin Nobes

New Business Enquiries - if you're interested in how Biffa can help support you with strategic sustainable solutions contact Martin by emailing

Biffa Polymers logo

“We have a strong and growing presence in the North East of England, a region which is playing a leading role in the UK’s green industrial revolution.”

Resources and Energy Division COO, Mick Davis



Interested in our Plastic Recycling Services?

Find out more