The opening of Wales’ largest glass processing plant at Swansea docks is providing a major jobs boost in the area thanks to £1.9 million investment package from the Welsh Government, Finance Wales and a consortium of private investors.
Established in 2011 in Llandarcy, Glass Tech Recycling (Glass Tech) has used the funding package to relocate to a bigger site at King’s Dock in Swansea as part of its development plans, creating an additional 27 jobs.
The new plant includes a state-of-the-art glass processing unit which will enable the company to convert glass into high-value glass cullet which it can sell to manufacturers as a cost-effective raw material.
Managing Director Karen John believes the investment will help Glass Tech take advantage of the growing demand for recycled glass. “Moving to a larger site has enabled us to install the equipment we need to target lucrative new markets and we now have Wales’ only reprocessing unit capable of making pure glass cullet. By being based in King’s Dock we can easily export our product to manufacturers overseas as well as to the UK.
“The glass cullet market is central to our long-term growth and the funding package from Finance Wales, Welsh Government and private investors has allowed us to build it into our business model. We’re forecasting strong growth in the coming year and hope to open a second site in 2016,” she explained.
A support package of £320,000 from the Welsh Government’s Economic Growth Fund partly funded Glass Tech’s expansion. Welcoming the news, Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “I am delighted that Welsh Government funding has supported Glass Tech’s expansion plans, enabling it to increase its capacity and capability and securing its long-term viability.
“Working in one of our key sectors, Glass Tech’s investment in the latest technology will ensure it retains a competitive edge, enabling it to access new and expanding markets in the UK and overseas while also supporting Welsh Government recycling targets.”
Finance Wales Portoflio Executive, Nicola Griffiths helped to structure a £500,000 equity and mezzanine package for Glass Tech. She said: “Karen is an experienced director with a strong vision for the company, which has already expanded significantly over the last 4 years. I’m pleased we’ve been able to join forces with the Welsh Government and other investors to help fund this exciting move for Glass Tech.
“In addition to providing a significant local jobs boost, the new Swansea plant has drastically increased Glass Tech’s scale and capacity. It’s also cemented its position as a UK leader in glass processing, putting it on an even stronger footing for the future.”
Commenting on behalf of the consortium of private investors, businessman Michael Shirley said: “We’re thrilled to be investing again alongside the Welsh Government and Finance Wales to back Glass Tech’s impressive expansion plans. The vision of the management team maps out a bright future for the company and we’re excited to be part of its journey. This is an example of a Welsh business with a global vision.”
Having started out providing customers in South Wales with specialist glass recycling services, Glass Tech then expanded into the South West of England. Today the company offers customers a brokerage service, arranging the collection, sale and purchase of materials such as steel, aluminium and plastics.
Glass cullet is an increasingly popular raw material used by manufacturers because it can reduce energy costs during the manufacturing process.
It is estimated over 357,000 tonnes of glass were reprocessed in the UK last year, with an average of up to 8 jobs created from every 1,000 tonnes of glass recycled.