Planning permission has been granted for Quantafuel’s new plastics recycling plant in Sunderland – creating over 100 jobs and processing plastic waste that is largely not recycled in the UK.

Quantafuel Sunderland Ltd – a subsidiary of Quantafuel, a specialist recycling company based in Norway – will build the plastics processing plant on a key 12-acre site on the eastern edge of Port of Sunderland.

The plant will take mixed plastic waste from across the north of England that would otherwise have been incinerated or disposed of in landfill.

Using pyrolysis technology, the materials will be heated in the absence of oxygen so they melt and break down into raw materials (pyrolysis oils) that can be used again in the manufacture of new products, including high-grade plastics.

It will be the first plant operated by Quantafuel in the UK to recycle plastics, which reduces C02 emissions by around 70% compared to incineration.

Construction is expected to get underway later this year, with the plant opening in 2025.

The new plant will support 200 jobs during construction and will create over 100 new, full-time posts when it opens.

Jobs available will range from highly-skilled mechanical and chemical engineering posts, to management roles, finance, operatives, security, and cleaning.

Apprenticeship and training positions will also be available. Quantafuel is already working with Sunderland College and is in discussion with local universities and training centres to ensure positions are made available to people in the area. It has also given an undertaking to liaise with the community in the East End of Sunderland about vacancies.

Winifred Patricia Johansen, Director of Quantafuel Sunderland, thanked the City Council and port for their welcoming and ambitious approach and said she looked forward to working with them to create a plant that could become a key part of Sunderland’s future growth and Net Zero plans.

“We’re very pleased to have secured planning permission and thank council members for sharing in our ambition to create a long-term, sustainable alternative to incineration and landfill for dealing with plastics,” said Winifred.

“We’re hoping to open similar plants across the UK but chose Sunderland as our first development as the port provides an ideal location, and the city has a good, skilled workforce to draw on.

“Working with the local community is extremely important to us. We met with Sunderland College and members of the East End community last year and we hope to develop those relationships further as the plant takes shape. We will be holding job fairs and community liaison events to ensure local people gain real benefits from Quantafuel Sunderland, including quality training and job opportunities.”

Members of Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee voted in favour of granting permission for the plant.

After the meeting, Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller, who is also Chair of Port of Sunderland, said: “I’m thrilled the Council has given permission for Quantafuel to build its first UK plastics recycling operation right here in Sunderland.

“We’re a city transforming and growing, and this major investment from Quantafuel demonstrates what we have to offer global companies, and our transition to becoming a key investment hub for innovative businesses in the sustainable technologies and green industries.

“The port is key to the city’s development plans and we continue to invest in it to develop our rail, road, and sea links, which are vital to attracting investment. We look forward to working with Quantafuel in the months and years ahead as it brings these exciting plans to life.”

The plant will be designed to process around 100,000 tonnes of low value plastic waste, such as soft food packaging and a variety of domestic and industrial plastics.

The raw materials produced in the plant will be shipped from the port to customers in the petrochemical industry to be used again, while self-generated gas (NCG) will be used to power the plant.

Port Director Matthew Hunt said Quantafuel was a welcome addition to the site.

“In recent years, there has been huge investment and effort to stimulate interest and growth at the port, and a lot of infrastructure works have been carried out to attract new business,” said Matthew.

“It’s great to see these efforts paying off with Quantafuel investing, alongside new businesses, such as Wastefront and Brineflow Limited.

“We wish Quantafuel well and look forward to working with them as they begin construction and become an integral part of the business community at the port.”