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General views around the Robinsons soft drinks factory at Carrow Works, Norwich. Ready Drinks Department where the Robinsons brand Fruit Shoot drinks are produced. Picture: James Bass For: EDP BUSINESS EDP Pics © 2007 Tel: (01603) 772434
By shaun lowthorpe Business editor
Saturday, July 14, 2012
A Norfolk firm is playing a key role in the operation to dispose of thousands of Fruit Shoot bottles and packaging in the wake of a safety scare, which will see the contents turned into recycled plastic.
Bosses at Britvic, which has factories in Norwich and Chelmsford last week recalled all Fruit Shoot and Fruit Shoot Hydra products from the shelves after a design fault was discovered with the lids, amid fears they could be a choking hazard.
Production in Norwich has ceased in the wake of the scare, and this week Britvic announced that it could not rectify the design problem and was instead switching to a new sports lid, while it will take six weeks to resume production.
Britvic said the move will wipe up to £25m off its pre-tax profits and it also said that it will take the firm six months to get production back to previous levels of demand.
In the meantime, however, a huge disposal effort is now under way and Britvic has tasked waste-disposal specialists M Gaze with helping with the recycling effort.
Based at Thurlton, near Loddon, M Gaze specialises in the treatment of a range of industrial waste processes including food package recycling, and liquid wastes.
Britvic declined to specify how many tonnes of Fruit Shoot are involved in the disposal operation, but one source told the EDP that there were in excess of 10 industrial sized skip loads every day for the next three weeks and waste was being collected from the Norwich and Chelmsford sites and a distribution centre at Lutterworth in Leicestershire.
Inside the factory, Fruit Shoot bottles are being collected, while still in their packaging, in blue skips marked ‘wet waste only’ before being loaded on to larger containers.
They are then taken to larger containers outside and loaded on to M Gaze lorries before heading down the A146 to the firm’s treatment facility at Thurlton.
As an indication of the efficiency of the operation on Thursday two large M Gaze lorries arrive at the Britvic factory, near the County Hall roundabout within the space of 15 minutes and were on their way back to Thurlton within an hour.
Given the costs involved in the recall and the impacts on Britiv’s share price, questions had been raised whether the firm would look to landfill the bottles and packaging in their entirety rather than recycle them.
However, such a move would fly in the face of Britvic’s corporate goals of cutting the amount of waste it disposes, while the firm last year committed itself to the goal of having two factories which were zero landfill.
A Britvic spokesman said: “M Gaze have been appointed by Britvic to support the disposal of recalled Fruit Shoot packs from the Norwich factory. All packs are being recycled and will be resold as rPET (recycled plastic) for further use. They are not being sent to landfill.”
Norfolk turkey giant Bernard Matthews is in talks to sell a stake in the business.