Durham County Council has given the green light for a Â£15m plastic bottle recycling plant to be developed near the town of Seaham.
The council granted the waste management company Biffa planning permission for the polymer processing facility at a meeting yesterday with construction on the site now set to start this summer.
If construction is delivered on time, it is anticipated that commissioning at the plant may begin as soon as this December.
Biffa has said that the new recycling plant will drastically boost the UKâ€™s plastic bottle recycling capability while creating additional jobs in the area.
Mick Davis, managing director of resource, recovery and treatment at Biffa, said: â€œThe UK currently uses around 13.5 billion plastic bottles a year but can only process half of this, with the rest diverted to landfill or overseas.
â€˜This new site represents an exciting opportunity to boost our recycling capacity here at home and supports the countryâ€™s long-term plan to find new ways to reuse plastics, as detailed in Defraâ€™s recent Resource & Waste Strategy.
â€˜Our proposals for the Seaham plant were the result of months of careful consideration and we are keen to build on our already excellent reputation for recycling in the north east.
â€˜We are delighted Durham County Council recognised the importance of this site to the region, as well as the wider waste industry, and we now look forward to seeing these plans come to life.â€™
The PET processing facility, which will be located in a vacant 130,000 square foot warehouse on the Foxcover Industrial Estate near the A182, will be capable of recycling more than 5 tonnes of clear PET an hour, equivalent to one billion plastic drinks bottles a year.
The development will create around 70 new jobs and compliment Biffaâ€™s nearby polymer processing facility in nearby Redcar, doubling the companyâ€™s plastic bottle recycling capacity.
According to council documents, the facility will reprocess single-use plastic bottles into PET flakes which can then be transported off-site and used to produce new drinks bottles and food trays.
It is anticipated that the facility will operate 24 hours a day seven days a week for 50 weeks per year, closing one week each year for Christmas and one week for annual maintenance.
The news comes a month after Swindon Borough Council announced it hopes to bring an Advanced Plastics Recycling Facility (aPRF) to Swindon, capable of recycling all types of plastic.