ecoPlants to Clean Up the UK
A new joint venture between Clean Planet Energy and Crossroads Real Estate aims to tackle the plastic waste crisis, with the potential for over £400 million of new UK investment deployed for future facilities
Writer: Phoebe Harper
On 15th November, Clean Planet Energy announced a new joint venture with private equity firm Crossroads Real Estate to fund Clean Planet Energy’s flagship ecoPlant, which is currently under construction in Teesside, Northeast England. This will be the first of 10 new ecoPlants that Crossroads Real Estate and Clean Planet Energy are jointly seeking to build and operate across the UK.
The new joint venture could see over £400 million of new UK investment deployed for the future construction of these facilities to tackle the plastic waste crisis. Potential sites have already been identified in Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire and South Wales, with further locations and announcements to be made in the months ahead.
Clean Planet Energy’s ecoPlant is a green, advanced recycling facility intended to process non-recyclable and hard-to-recycle waste plastics that would otherwise be sent to landfill. Each ecoPlant is designed to accept 20,000 tonnes of plastics each year and to convert this waste into (a) ultra-low sulphur fuels to replace fossil fuels in the transport and heavy-machinery sectors, and (b) petrochemical feedstocks, including naphtha, which can be used to make new plastic products without the need to use fossil-based feedstocks. Clean Planet Energy’s ultra-low-sulphur diesel can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75 percent compared to the use of traditional diesel, while the joint venture could also lead to over 200,000 tonnes of hard-to-recycle waste plastics being repurposed for use in the circular supply chain each year.
“At Crossroads, we are committed to green opportunities and impact investing as demonstrated already through our sustainable hotels strategy. We look forward to partnering with Clean Planet Energy to roll out ecoPlants across the UK, including the flagship ecoPlant already under construction in Teesside,” says Founding Partner and CEO of Crossroads Real Estate, David Gillerman.
“The negative impact of plastic waste on our environment, plus the challenges we face from excess carbon emissions, made the joint venture with Clean Planet Energy a very compelling opportunity. With this investment, we have the ability to make a significant environmental and social impact across the UK,” he continues.
The news comes as COP27 is currently underway and world leaders are seeking solutions to reduce global GHG emissions and plastic pollution. Data from 2021 shows that the UK still generates over two million tonnes of plastic waste each year, with well over 60 percent of this not suitable for recycling. In November 2022, the UK government’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee published a report focusing on accelerating the reduction of plastic waste, with advanced recycling identified as a key policy recommendation. By developing new ecoPlants throughout the UK, Clean Planet Energy and Crossroads Real Estate are opening a route for traditionally non-recyclable plastic waste to be repurposed into sustainable and circular economy products; thereby cutting plastic pollution, reducing the amount of waste entering UK landfill, and also lowering GHG emissions when the waste is converted into ultra-low-sulphur diesel and used as a low-carbon fuel replacement.
Bertie Stephens, Group CEO of Clean Planet Energy, says, “Clean Planet Energy’s mission is to remove over one million tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste from our environment, every year. This exciting partnership gives us the capacity to make a significant dent in this target. Having Crossroads Real Estate join us, not just for the development of potentially 10 new UK ecoPlant projects but also for the construction of the current Teesside ecoPlant, means in Crossroads we have a partner who, like us, is focussed on making a sustainable difference with its investments, delivering on a vision of a greener UK and beyond. We’re now reaching out to local councils and private partners across the UK who could benefit from a reduction in plastic waste entering their landfill.”
Earlier this year, Clean Planet Energy announced a 10-year agreement with global energy company bp plc to offtake its circular products from its ecoPlants into the market. Each new ecoPlant will be able to process hard-to-recycle plastics in the UK; at their peak, the facilities should create over 750 direct new jobs, and potentially thousands of indirect jobs when the ecoPlants move from development into the construction and operation phases.