Reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfill is an important issue for the construction industry. Paul Hetherington, Chief Executive Officer at Marshall-Tufflex, discusses the responsibility manufacturers have towards recycling and environmental sustainability.
In the UK, approximately 120 million tonnes of waste is produced by construction activity each year – this amounts to nearly 60% of all UK waste. An estimated 25 million tonnes of this waste is sent straight to landfill.
While sustainability has been a talking point in the industry and improvements have been made, there needs to be more action taken to prevent waste from reaching landfill. Plastic and PVC-U has been at the forefront of scrutiny for environmental causes, but it is possible to adopt manufacturing practices that ensure this material is part of the recycling revolution.
For example, Marshall-Tufflex has been using recycled material to manufacture products for more than twenty years. Our PVC-U trunking is manufactured from 80% recycled material, with some extruded white trunking profiles manufactured from 100% recycled content – meaning we are saving the weight of 300 double decker buses worth of PVC-U waste entering landfill each year. If all PVC-U cable management manufacturers increased the portion of recycled material in their systems to just 50%, its estimated that this figure could triple.
Offcuts from PVC-U window fabrication are ideal for recycling, as they are designed to withstand the external environment – making trunking created from this recycled content stronger than when virgin material is used. For the production process, the windows are taken to a factory, where they are turned into chipped PVC-U pellets, which are then subsequently delivered to the manufacturer to use when creating new trunking systems.
Leading manufacturers should have strict quality control processes in place to monitor the quality of the recycled material. This will be in compliance with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) standards, which regards the production and use of chemicals and their impact on both human health and the environment. In addition, an ISO 14001 Environmental Management Accreditation will demonstrate that manufacturers have taken steps to reduce their impact on the environment throughout the production process.
The ultimate vision for Marshall-Tufflex is that within ten years, all PVC-U cable management products installed in the UK are manufactured from a minimum of 50% recycled material. We want the conversation about environmental sustainability to be had throughout the entire supply chain – from architect to end-user clients, encouraging everyone to make informed decisions when specifying, buying, installing and using PVC-U trunking systems.
This will significantly reduce the sector’s environmental impact and contribute towards a more circular economy.