A plastic packaging producer in Salford is reaping the rewards of switching to a new type of plastic and installing an innovative recycling system that turns production waste into new product.
Established in 1987, Mister Blister manufactures thermoformed blister packaging and blister packs for retail, catering and supermarkets supply chains.
In 2016, the company began working with environmental specialists at Greater Manchester’s Business Growth Hub to explore the business case for switching production from PVC to PET - a food-grade plastic preferred by larger clients in the supermarket supply chain.
Shortly after making the switch, Mister Blister expressed an interest in investing in a new extrusion line that could recycle skeletal waste from production into new ‘rPET’ plastic sheet.
“Switching from PVC to PET has opened up new markets for us in the food sector with larger clients, and we wanted to go further to create a more stable and secure supply of raw material by recycling as much of our production waste as possible”, said director Gary Briscoe.
Energy loggers were placed on machinery to determine the additional energy costs of granulating and extruding the skeletal waste. During the process, the loggers also identified a wiring fault that was fixed, leading to savings of £8,000 before the project even began.
After the data was analysed, Mister Blister went ahead with a £1.5 million investment in a brand new extrusion line. To balance out the energy consumption of the new machinery and avoid the need to increase the site’s electricity supply, a pulsed volumetric stored energy system was also installed.
Despite the large outlay, the project will pay back in less than four years. Instead of buying in plastic sheet, recycled plastic bottle flake is bought in and blended with production waste to produce plastic sheet on-site, which has significantly reduced raw material costs.
In addition, the ability to make recycled plastic sheet and take production waste from other companies has also created new business opportunities for the company.
Growth and job creation
“We are now turning production waste into an additional 800 tonnes of rPET sheet to sell into the market per year”, Gary Briscoe added.
“The investment into extrusion and recycling has given us the confidence to create seven new positions in the company as well as ensuring we are doing our bit for the environment.
“We are very pleased that our investment and the challenges we faced with such a large project are now creating growth and further employment at Mister Blister.
“Plastic has received a lot of negative press recently but we have proved that if the waste can be collected then it can be infinitely recycled to the benefit of the economy and the environment.”
Plastics in the press
Laura Bramley, environmental business advisor at the Business Growth Hub, said: “The plastics industry is in a state of flux at the moment so it’s important for companies in the supply chain to be innovative and sustainable. To their credit, this is an area where Mister Blister is succeeding and we are happy to support them on their journey.”
To find out more about the Hub’s support for Greater Manchester SMEs, or to read other success stories, click here.