Recycled plastic wood products business in Rhyl poised for growth

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Recycled plastic wood products company Plastecowood, whose carbon negative products collectively remove some 40 million unwanted plastic items a year from the UK’s waste stream, is set to see significant expansion.

Santander UK has provided the manufacturer, based in Rhyl, North Wales, with £1.3m funding to support its expansion. The company has also transferred its day-to-day banking operations to Santander UK.

Plastecowood’s new “living wall”

The funding supports Plastecowood’s purchase of two additional processing lines, which will triple its production of Smartawood® – a carbon-negative alternative to wood – timber and assembled products from 2,000 tonnes per year to 6,000 tonnes. In line with this increased manufacturing capacity, the company is targeting an increase in annual turnover from the current £2.3 million to £6-10 million in the next few years.

Plastecowood creates Smartawood® at its Bodelwyddan manufacturing plant from mixed recycled plastic packaging waste that is often rejected by other companies because it is contaminated or cannot be recycled. The company estimates that each tonne of Smartawood® manufactured uses more than 25,000 plastic packaging waste, saves 700 kg of carbon from landfill or incineration and avoids, on average, the felling of two trees and half. Last year, it recycled 40 million plastic bottles and containers as part of its manufacturing process. Smartawood® lumber and assembled products, including outdoor benches, picnic tables, planters, decks, sidewalks, shipping crates, pallets and fences, can themselves be recycled at new by Plastecowood at the end of its life in its current form. The company sources much of the plastic waste used in its manufacturing process from commercial waste collectors.

Plastecowood is expanding its product range with the development of a “living wall”, a vertical fence or a partition with an integrated space for growing plants, which it declines for use in three formats:

  • A noise barrier that, in addition to reducing noise, traps air pollution and provides space to grow plants, for use along highways and railway lines.
  • A vertical garden that doubles as a wall, fence or partition for smaller gardens.
  • Custom-designed classrooms and outdoor performance spaces that include stages, sheltered seating and socializing areas as well as raised planters for growing vegetables and flowers.

Plastecowood was founded in 2014 and employs 40 people. The company won the Santander X Global Environmental Challenge 20211, which is designed to support entrepreneurs committed to the environment and with innovative ideas to build a more sustainable future. Last year he also took part in the UN Climate Conference COP26, exhibiting a sculpture of a fire-ravaged forest created from Smartawood® by renowned British artist Mark Weighton.

Henning von Spreckelsen, Technical Director, Plastecowood said:

“Santander UK has demonstrated their confidence in Plastecowood, from the very first contact through to our current business facilities. The loan facility is transformational and allows us to work towards our long-term vision of building a Smartawood® factory outside of all major cities around the world. Every city in the world shares the challenges of managing mixed plastic packaging waste responsibly and finding a carbon-negative alternative – like Smartawood® – to products made from steel, wood and concrete, allowing our existing living forests to continue to absorb carbon dioxide.

Benjamin Earls, relationship manager at Santander UK, said:

“Plastecowood not only removes hard-to-recycle plastic from the UK’s waste stream, but also puts it to use in manufacturing a carbon-negative alternative to wood, steel and concrete products. We are delighted to become Plastecowood’s banking partner and provide them with financing that will significantly increase their manufacturing output. Santander UK is proud to support companies such as Plastecowood who create innovative and environmentally friendly products.

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