Up to 70 jobs could be created in Seaham after plans for a new recycling plant were given the green light.
The application for the plastics processing factory was approved by development bosses at Durham County Council this week.
Construction at the site, at Foxcover Distribution Park, in Admiralty Way, is due to start in September, with trials planned for December.
The scheme was submitted by waste giant Biffa to change the use of the current building from office and warehouses to industrial use and install a new ventilation system.
Mick Davis, managing director of resource, recovery and treatment at Biffa, said: “This new site represents an exciting opportunity to boost our recycling capacity here at home and supports the country’s long-term plan to find new ways to reuse plastics, as detailed in DEFRA’s recent Resource & Waste Strategy.
“Our proposals for the Seaham plant were the result of months of careful consideration and we are keen to build on our already excellent reputation for recycling in the north east.
“We are delighted Durham County Council recognised the importance of this site to the region, as well as the wider waste industry, and we now look forward to seeing these plans come to life.”
Durham County Council’s planning department recommended the plans for approval by the County Planning Committee on the grounds it would contribute towards recycling efforts and create jobs.
According to the firm, the UK uses about 13.5m plastic bottles every year, but only has the capacity to process about half of them, with the rest dumped in landfill or shipped overseas.
The 350,000 sq ft site in Seaham is expected to give the company the space it needs to recycle more than one billion bottles a year.
This would see it operating 24/7 and processing three million bottles a day into new food and drink packaging.
Biffa, which already has a recycling plant in Redcar turning 18,000 tonnes of recycled High Density Polyethylene (rHDPE) into milk bottles and food trays every year, has said the Seaham facility will double the its recycling capacity for plastic bottles.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service