It's a grey November afternoon and I'm stood in a scrap yard on the banks of the River Hull, cubes of crushed plastic bottles towering over me.

Inside the small warehouse behind me is the roar from machines as thousands upon thousands of crisp packets and face masks are shredded into mulch, the fumes of hot plastic wafting across the site.

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Hull's ReWorked centre is nestled between the vast sprawl of factories and plants in the city's industrial district of Wincolmlee.

The site was bought by waste group director Steven Carrie to disable a huge incinerator tower pumping out greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and has instead been transformed into a place where tonnes of plastic destined for landfill is recycled every month.

Everything imaginable is recycled by ReWorked – from PPE, to bottle tops, to empty lipstick tubes.

They are currently the only place in the UK to recycle lateral flow tests and proud makers of the world's first Christmas tree fashioned from beach waste.

Some of ReWorked's finished products made entirely from shredded and recycled plastic - a lot of it is used for classroom furniture such as benches and chairs

The company, a branch of the My Group, started work last year after spotting the rising need to recycle plastic that can't be put in your green bin.

Ever popped a used face mask in one of those special bins in Morrisons or Wilko? This is probably where it ends up.

ReWorked are sent discarded PPE from film sets and even political events like the recent G7 summit – at some point, Boris and Biden's used masks have ended up here at this site in Hull.

"It comes in to us from box recycling schemes then all the metal is taken out before it gets shredded," Izzie Glazzard, one of the ReWorked staff explains.

"The mulch then gets put into a 220 degree heat and fused together and pressed together a bit like a sandwich to make a board."

This polystyrene mulch has been shredded down and will be turned to resin to coat ReWorked's recycled plastic boards

Next to the machines are huge bags, weighing a tonne each, of what looks like glistening baby blue sawdust made from thousands upon thousands of pieces of plastic.

The flat boards - each made from 43kg' worth of waste - are then used for furniture in schools, boxes, signs and so much more.

Even the desks the ReWorked staff work on and the steps up into the factory are made from the board.

Izzie says working at the site was "pretty harrowing" at first, seeing the tonnes of waste arriving every week.

It's not just old Quavers packets and Pepsi bottle caps, though.

ReWorked takes in reams upon reams of textiles thrown out on a weekly basis by your favourite high street names.

Bags upon bags of discarded PPE which can take hundreds of years to biodegrade in landfill, pictured at Hull's ReWorked site

Ever wondered what happens to the advertising campaign banners in the likes of JD Sports and Primark shop windows? Let's face it, probably not.

Each high street chain goes through 10,000 banners each week in the UK, which are usually only displayed for 1-6 weeks before either being discarded or recycled.

Katie Robinson, textiles technician at ReWorked, cuts them into pieces and re-purposes them.

"These huge bits of material can last up to 200 years in landfill," she tells me.

"We need to think, really, why are companies making stuff to last that long that only goes in a window for a few days? It’s criminal, it really is, what’s happening."

Currently, the vast majority of plastic ending up with ReWorked is from empty cosmetics packaging from recycling schemes at stores like Boots.

"They’re so hard to recycle because of all the tiny components and bits of metal," says staff member Maisie Callow.

While the factory is doing its bit to save tonnes of plastic from being shipped to landfill sites in third world countries, it's also quite literally powered by waste.

ReWorked powers its machines from gas produced by food waste at a plant in Leeds, scraped from discarded packaging and mulched together into a soup which is put through an anaerobic digester.

"A bit like the inside of a cow's stomach," says Maisie.

Incredible.

We produce 5m tonnes of plastic used every year in the UK – half of which is then binned. For perspective, that's a mountain of plastic three times the weight of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge wasted each year by our small island alone.

"We have to come up with more alternative ways of getting out of this mess," Izzie says.

"What we do helps clean up what's already out there. I think even if we get rid of all single use plastic, we’ve still get masses and masses out there.

"It’s going to take a long time to fix."

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