Team in place to run world-changing plant

The team recruited to run a world first advance plastics recycling plant includes a veteran of previous landmark projects, a teenager who’s already overcome career disappointment and a young woman determined to break down barriers. 

Mura Technology’s purpose-built HydroPRS™ advanced plastic recycling facility at Wilton International is the first commercial scale site to process flexible and rigid, mixed-waste plastics, including films, which were previously considered unrecyclable. At the moment they are sent to incinerators and landfill or leak into the environment.

Last year the Stockton-based px Group was appointed to run and maintain the plant and over the last few months it has been busy recruiting.

All but two of 33 staff are now in place and they are being trained in preparation for the forthcoming commissioning of the site, called ReNew ELP.

The new px team comprises a mix of age and experience. Fifty-nine-year-old technician Craig Duncan from Billingham was so interested in the significance of the project that he came out of semi-retirement. “That’s what drew me to it. It really excites me to be at the start of something so important,” he said.

Craig spent the first part of his career in heavy construction helping to build the Channel Tunnel, the Queen Elizabeth II Dartford Crossing Bridge and the Boston Harbour River Tunnel.

He worked in pharmaceutical manufacture for a decade before spending the last 20 years working offshore, at times in charge of more than 100 men.

“It’s now great to be just in charge of just me,” said Craig. “But I’m not here to make up the numbers. I’m here to work. I’ve always been hands-on and that’s what I’ll be doing. I’m looking forward to it and it’s going to be a whole new experience for me.”

He is also looking forward to the first Christmas in 16 years that he will be able to be at home with his family.

px is providing an exciting new opportunity for 19-year-old Production Technician Jacob Midgley from Brotton.

Jacob seemed destined for a career with Mitsubishi but it closed its Cassel site in Billingham just as he finished his apprenticeship. He transferred to the company’s plant in Newton Aycliffe but found the 80 miles daily round trip difficult, so was delighted when his application with px was successful.

“Things happen and you have to move on,” he said. “The people I’m working with are fantastic. It’s a really interesting project and at the same time we’ll be helping the environment, so it’s a two in one really.”

Twenty-eight-year-old Ellie Garrett from Guisborough – also a Production Technician – has a similar view. “It’s something new and something to feel good about as well. I’m so proud to be part of it,” she said. “I’m ambitious but I want to stay with px because I’ve heard nothing but good about this company.”

Ellie loved science at school and wanted a career involving chemistry. Through the Science Industry Partnership, she spent three weeks in the laboratories of INEOS at Seal Sands, but discovered that working in production would suit her more.

She became an apprentice production technician with ICL and then worked for four years at Greenergy, both also based at Seal Sands.

“Back then people questioned why I wanted to do something like this, but it’s changing – there are more and more girls coming through,” said Ellie. “When I tell my friends what I do none of them have a clue what it is, which is so strange, because it’s a normal job to me.

“I have had barriers put up where I’ve felt ‘do I really want to do this’, but 99% of the men you meet are lovely and supportive. Here we’re all training together and learning together.  Everyone’s at the same stage.”

She added: “I don’t think this is just a job for men. If you like science then it’s a job for anybody as long as you have the right mindset.”

Not often you work on a project that could change the world

There were more than 700 applications for the px jobs and Group Plant Manager Antony Myrddin-Baker said the new recruits should be proud of themselves for being appointed after such a competitive process.

“We’re starting to get to know them properly and we’re really delighted that they already share our excitement about our work.  It’s rare to be able to say that the project you’re working on could change the world – but that’s definitely the case here.”

The new plant will run Mura Technology’s HydroPRS™ process which uses water at high temperature and high pressure to recycle waste plastics. High-quality, liquid hydrocarbons are produced which can replace the use of fossil-based oils in the manufacture of new plastic and other products. There is no limit to how many times the same material can be recycled.

The award-winning px Group is more than a quarter of a century old and is a fully integrated infrastructure solutions business which delivers innovative management services for high hazard and highly regulated environments.

px Group also owns the Saltend Chemicals Park at the heart of the UK’s Energy Estuary in the Humber, which is home to several world-leading manufacturing businesses such as Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, INEOS, and Vivergo Fuels.