Pennon plans £65m plastics recycling facility as profits jump

The owner behind waste management firm Viridor is set to open a new recycling plant which will be able to recycle 8% of all plastic thrown away in the UK.

FTSE 250 company Pennon said bosses will spend £65 million on the facility, which will be powered by its own nearby rubbish-burning power plant.

The site, based in Avonmouth near Bristol, will have the ability to reprocess 60,000 tonnes of plastic a year.

The announcement comes as Pennon, which also owns South West Water, revealed profits have jumped thanks to the increased awareness and demand for recycling.

Revenues in the year to March 31 rose 6.1% to £1.48 billion, with pre-tax profits up 8.3% to £259 million.

Viridor had a particularly strong period with revenues at the division growing 8.5% to £852.7 million, with pre-tax profits soaring 25% to £88.5 million.

South West Water revenues rose 1.7% to £581 million, with pre-tax profits flat at £181 million.

Chief executive Chris Loughlin said strong results at Viridor were helped by high-profile campaigns about plastic pollution, often fronted by Sir David Attenborough.

Mr Loughlin said: “Market dynamics continue to be favourable with the ‘Blue Planet’ effect spurring action, while the Government’s recent Resources & Waste Strategy will encourage positive reform.”

Blue Planet II
Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II helped increase awareness about plastic pollution (BBC/PA)

Since the documentary Blue Planet II highlighted the levels of plastic dumped in the ocean, campaigners have called on the Government to introduce a plastic tax, and ministers have opened a consultation into the proposal.

Pennon’s new recycling plant will be able to re-purpose plastic waste and sell it on to companies which can then reuse it.

To maintain its green credentials, the site will be powered by the firm’s “energy recovery facility” which burns around 320,000 tonnes of non-recyclable rubbish collected from homes by Viridor.

Investors were less impressed however, with shares falling 1.2% to 725.4p in Thursday morning trading.

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