Members of the public are being urged to find out more about plans for a new plastics recycling plant at Port of Sunderland before a planning application is submitted.

Quantafuel Sunderland Ltd – part of a specialist recycling company based in Norway – was hoping to hold drop-in events in January for people to find out more about the proposed recycling plant in Sunderland.

However, rising cases of COVID both in the UK and Norway meant the events had to be postponed until early spring. More information about the drop-in events will be provided in due course.

Instead, Quantafuel is inviting members of the public to view the information online now at www.quantafuel.com/sunderland.

The company is also distributing information leaflets to homes in the East End of the city to keep people updated and to ask for feedback.

Quantafuel is proposing to build the plastics recycling plant on a 12-acre site on the eastern edge of Port of Sunderland and is preparing to submit a planning application.

The plant, subject to planning permission, is scheduled to open during 2024, creating around 100 new, long-term jobs, while also supporting around 200 jobs during construction.

It will also create training and apprenticeship opportunities for the local community.

Last year, Quantafuel announced plans to expand into the UK with a series of plastic recycling plants – the first one being in Sunderland.

“I’m pleased to announce Quantafuel’s expansion into circular plastics in the UK,” said Lars Rosenløv, CEO of Quantafuel.

“We’ve identified an excellent site in Sunderland and are grateful for the positive welcome from the port and the city council. It’s important that we give the local community a chance to look at the plans and find out more, and this is the first step in doing that.

“We’re disappointed that we had to postpone our plans for community drop-in events in January, so we’re making the information available on our website for now.”

Moving forward, Quantafuel will still hold some drop-in events where local residents can review the plans, meet the team, and ask questions. If anyone wishes to get in touch, they can do so via email at sunderland@quantafuel.com

If approved, the facility will process low value plastic waste that is currently not recycled in the UK, such as soft food packaging and a variety of domestic and industrial plastics. It will transform the waste plastics into raw materials that can be used again in the production of high-grade plastic.

The process will reduce CO2 emissions and contribute to the UK’s circular economy. Today this waste plastic is sent to landfill or incinerated.

The plant will be designed to process more than 110,000 tonnes of plastics – which would come from locations across the north of England. It would use a chemical process – known as pyrolysis – which breaks down the waste plastic into small fragments in the absence of oxygen. The resulting oil is then used as raw material for new products.

The raw materials produced in the plant will be shipped to customers in the petrochemical industry, while gas produced will be used to power the plant.

Lars Rosenløv added: “This is our first step into circular plastics in the UK. At present, there are no environmentally-friendly ways to dispose of these plastics and they are sent to landfill or incinerated or are found littering the countryside and oceans. The plant would be a positive step towards helping the UK achieve its net zero targets.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chair of Port of Sunderland, encouraged people to find out more about the plans.

He said: “The Covid pandemic has upset a lot of plans at the moment and, understandably, Quantafuel felt postponing the drop-in events was the safest thing to do.

“I do encourage people to have a look at the detailed information on the Quantafuel website and to feedback comments online.

“We look forward to the Quantafuel team holding an exhibition of their plans in the city as soon as they’re able.”

For more information about Quantafuel, go to www.quantafuel.com