JOBS are being axed at a £50m waste recycling plant on Tyneside after bosses announced its decision to mothball the site.
Brothers William and Michael Thompson set up Graphite Resources in 2002 and launched the EcoParc autoclaving plant in October 2010.
The facility heats and sterilises waste at 160C, allowing it to be used for building or biofuel rather than dumped in landfill.
But now around 43 people are expected to lose their jobs following the company’s decision to mothball the facility at Derwenthaugh, near the Scotswood Bridge.
Bosses confirmed that 10 workers employed with Graphite Resources have been made redundant, while a period of consultation has begun with 33 employees on site employed by px group.
Executive director William, who left the family haulage and demolition firm, Thompsons of Prudhoe in 2002, to launch Graphite Resources, said: “What we are doing is taking the plant off-line. To increase the recovery of recycling we need to improve the operational consistency.
“We couldn’t fund and carry everyone through the off-line period and we had to make staff redundant.” He added: “There are a number of issues we need to address to improve the operational reliability. We had several issues with the plant being so novel.
“There was no single issue which caused us to turn it offline.
“We would like to thank the team and contractors for their efforts, support and loyalty they have given.”
A px spokesman said: “The Graphite Resources facility at Derwenthaugh was operated by the px group with 33 employees on site. With the plant currently mothballed, we have begun a period of consultation with these employees and are hoping to redeploy as many as possible to other px operations.
“At this stage we do not know whether there will be any compulsory redundancies.”
The plant aimed to turn waste into a product called cellmatt which could then be re-used. The company said it would be able to treat 320,000 tonnes of wastes a year and divert more than 80% of input wastes from landfill.
The company had hoped that the plant in Gateshead would be the first of many across the country.
The Thompson brothers raised the initial £50m through banks and also got investment from former Conservative environment secretary and education secretary Kenneth Baker.
In 2011 The Journal reported that the company had appointed administrator KPMG to deal with holding company Graphite Resources Ltd and debt-holding company Graphite Projects Ltd.
At the time William Thompson said the “restructuring” was necessary to raise extra cash to deal with an odour problem at the plant.