Biffa to create 30 jobs in £7million Washington plant as it unveils new Seaham recycling centre

Waste giant Biffa is to create 30 jobs with the opening of a £7million new plastic recycling plant in Washington.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 8:48 am
Henri Murison cuts the ribbon, watched by Stephen Simm, General Manager of Biffa Polymers; Biffa chief executive Michael Topham and Mayor of Seaham Linda Willis

The firm announced the plan at the unveiling of its new £27.5million Seaham plastic bottle recycling facility, which has itself created 100 jobs.

The Seaham plant, which was opened by Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, is capable of converting 57,000 tonnes of PET plastic per year, the equivalent of 1.3billion plastic bottles, while the new Washington factory, which it hopes to build in the next 12 months, will expand the firm’s capacity to recycle plastic tubs and trays and will handle approximately 20,000 tonnes of plastic per year.

At Seaham, Biffa will convert PET back into high-purity plastic pellets to be sold on to drinks makers and other manufacturers to be used for a range of applications, from food and beverage packaging, to clothing. Biffa believes the plant will play an important role in reducing plastic pollution in the UK.

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Chief Executive Michael Topham was delighted the firm had been able to expand its presence in the region: “We chose to do this here in the North East because there is such a great heritage of engineering and manufacturing and availability of people with great skills.”

The company had changed the way it worked: “If you go back 20 or 30 years, we were primarily a landfill company. Now it is about doing the best thing we can with everything we collect – plastic bottles are a great example of that,” he said.

“Plastic doesn’t have to be buried, or burnt, or exported. It can be recycled here and it can create jobs.

“We have got 75 people here now and there is another phase to come, then it will be 100. We have been working with the local JobCentre and we had a lot of applications.

“Almost all of them are local people and it will be the same when we hire the further 25. Twelve of the people that we have recruited were long-term unemployed, which is great.

“And one of those we have hired is profoundly deaf – we communicate with him through an I-pad. We’re building a really diverse workforce.”