Continuum Recycling, the pioneering recycled-PET joint venture between Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) and ECO Plastics, celebrated its one year anniversary by reaching the milestone of half a billion bottles processed since opening in May 2012. If placed end-to-end all the bottles sorted to date would stretch around the earth more than twice[1].

To mark the completion of Continuum’s first full year in operation, CCE and ECO Plastics welcomed Lord de Mauley, Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), for a tour of the facility. The visit allowed the Waste & Recycling Minister to witness first-hand the technology and people driving the transformation of plastics reprocessing in Great Britain.

Located on the site of ECO Plastics’ existing facility in Hemswell, Lincolnshire, the development of Continuum Recycling created the world’s largest plastics reprocessing facility, more than doubling the amount of bottle-grade recycled plastic (rPET) previously created in Britain.

The site is now responsible for processing around 50% of all the plastic bottles collected in the UK and played a key role in Coca-Cola’s recycling efforts during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.In total, some 15 million plastic bottles were collected from Games venues and returned to shelves as part of 63 million new bottles, during a process that lasted as little as six weeks

Alongside the plant’s environmental credentials, which includes saving a level of CO2 equivalent to taking over 15,700 cars off the roadper year, the partnership has helped to boost the rural economy of Lincolnshire, creating over thirty new jobs since opening.

Over the past twelve months, Continuum has received a number of recognitions, including the Best Partnership prize at the Green Business Awards in reflection of the facility’s impact on the UK’s domestic recycling industry,and has been shortlisted in the upcoming National Recycling Awards, BITC Responsible Business Awards, Resource Revolution Awards and Ethical Corporation Awards.

“Continuum has shown the real benefits of recycling. It has helped to cut down on waste and brought millions of plastic bottles back into use which would have otherwise been sent to landfill. The plant has further helped Lincolnshire’s rural economy to thrive by creating more jobs - this is exactly what we want to see,” says Lord de Mauley, Waste & Recycling Minister at DEFRA.

“We are immensely proud of the long-term partnership forged with ECO Plastics. Sorting more than half a billion bottles after only one year in operation is an extraordinary achievement, and shows once again the significance of a project which is truly shaping the future of plastics reprocessing in GB. Continuum was fundamental in helping the Coca-Cola system to deliver on its Olympics legacy pledge and its materials are now used across our full range of plastic packaging. Perhaps most significantly its success should demonstrate to everyone, from householders to Local Authorities and policy makers, the real environmental and economic benefits of recycling,” adds Nick Brown, Associate Director for Recycling at Coca-Cola Enterprises.

“Delivering a world-first is always a challenge, so to have hit the 500 million mark within a year of opening is a real achievement,” says Jonathan Short, Managing Director of ECO Plastics.

[1]Calculated based on the approximate length of a 500ml Coca-Cola bottle (20cm)