Landmark project approaches launch

A landmark recycling project, which has been run from the Wilton Centre for more than four years, is now just a few months from launch.

Early next year the world’s first commercial-scale plant will use a specially-developed process – HydroPRSTM – to start recycling plastics which up until now have been unrecyclable.

The plant, designed by Wilton Centre-based ReNew ELP, will return yogurt pots, plastic films and trays to the chemicals and oils from which they were made.  They will then be turned back into new plastic products which will eventually come back for the process to be repeated. 

There is no limit to the number of times each item can be used, re-cycled and re-used.  Contracts are in place to both supply the plant with waste plastic and to take away the re-created raw materials.  Residue from the process will also be blended with bitumen and used in road building and repairs. 

As the opening of the plant in nearby Wilton International approaches, ReNew ELP has more than doubled its space at the Wilton Centre and extended its lease. The company, which employs 20 people, has also announced that the Stockton-based px Group will operate and maintain the plant and it is starting to recruit the 30 staff who will be required.

“The world is watching Wilton,” said ReNew ELP’s Technical Manager Steve Garbutt.  “This technology has the potential to have a huge impact and as such it’s a pretty fantastic opportunity to be involved with.”

Claire Morton, The Wilton Centre’s Leasing and Finance Manager, said Renew ELP was not the only occupier leading the world in its field: “We have life science companies who made a major contribution to the response to COVID and are now working with pharmaceutical companies in the fight against some of the world’s deadliest diseases.  We also have an increasing number of businesses involved in the Teesside Net Zero project, which is also going to change the way we live.”

Around eight million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the world’s oceans every year.  Millions more is burnt or incinerated. 

ReNew will initially process 20,000 tonnes a year.  That should soon increase to 80,000 a year as it increases its capacity at Wilton International. Further UK plants are likely to follow once the Teesside operation is shown to be a success.  

ReNew ELP moved to the Wilton Centre from Newcastle once it had identified a suitable site for the plant. 

As well as being nearby, Mr Garbutt said there are a number of other advantages of being based in the centre: “There are great amenities, such as the meeting and conference rooms, which really create the right impression for the people from all over the world who come to visit us here.

“It’s a really vibrant place.  You see a lot of new companies arriving and existing companies, like us, who are expanding.”

He added: “As well as the site and the infrastructure you’ve also got expertise at every level in engineering.  In my career I’ve worked all over the UK and at every site I worked at there was always a good proportion of skilled labour, who came from Teesside. 

“Let’s hope, given the project work that is now happening in the area, a lot of them can come home.”

There are more than 60 companies based at The Wilton Centre.  It was bought last year by the Pioneer Group which has a further nine science parks in its portfolio. Nearly 6,500 people work at the parks.