Funding boost for Swansea business giving recycled plastics a second life

Smile Plastics founders Rosalie McMillan and Adam Fairweather (Credit - Heals)
Smile Plastics founders Rosalie McMillan and Adam Fairweather (Credit - Heals)

The Welsh Government is investing £300,000 in Smile Plastics, an innovative firm which gives recycled plastics a new lease of life.

The Swansea-based business, which transforms waste plastics from food and cosmetic packaging for use in architecture and the luxury design industry, will use the funding to create 18 new jobs and safeguard two more. The jobs will be crucial in supporting the local economic recovery from coronavirus.

The funding will also help the company, which supplies global brands including Stella McCartney and Christian Dior, to expand and increase its production to help satisfy a growing demand for its products.

These include making colourful and decorative surfaces and installations from used plastics for commercial work surfaces and panelling and residential shower surrounds and furniture.

It will also increase the amount of material Smile Plastics recycles every year.

Smile Plastics will receive a £150,000 repayable loan from the Economy Future’s Fund and a further £150,000 grant from the Circular Economy Fund, which is administered by WRAP Cymru on behalf of the Welsh Government.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates, said: “Smile Plastics’ growth potential is proven and I am delighted the Welsh Government has been able to support this innovative business, which has decarbonisation at its heart.

“Creating a circular economy for plastic waste is a huge opportunity for the economy of Wales as well as benefiting the environment, and I look forward to seeing the funding help Smile Plastics continue to produce new and exciting products and fulfil its ambitions as our economy recovers post-coronavirus.”

Hannah Blythyn, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, said: “Wales is already leading the way in the UK when it comes to recycling but I want us to go further and make Wales the number one recycling nation in the world – and move beyond recycling.

“We are on a journey towards becoming a circular economy, where waste is avoided and resources are kept in use as long as possible.

“Smile Plastics is an example of how recycled material can be used to create a successful business model, while benefitting our environment and stimulating demand for recycled material.”

Smile Plastics director Rosalie McMillan said: “We are delighted to receive the £300,000 from the Welsh Government. This money will be instrumental in expanding our capabilities to achieve our vision of transforming waste into decorative materials around the world.”

Bettina Gilbert, WRAP Cymru programme manager, said: “The £6.5m Circular Economy Fund provides the opportunity for manufacturers in Wales to apply for capital grants to increase their use of recycled plastic, paper, card or textiles. The fund is now able to support preparation for re-use, refurbishment and re-manufacturing activities in Wales. Smile Plastics has been awarded funding to enable it to manufacture products comprised of 100% recycled content, which can themselves be recycled. This is a great example of the Welsh circular economy in action.

“WRAP Cymru has so far awarded five grants, which are expected to result in the incorporation of more than 10,000 tonnes of recyclate over three years and we are still accepting applications.”