Annie-May Hugo, Technical Manager, Iplas
I was one of seven representatives from companies taking part in the university’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. The pitches covered subjects ranging from radioactivity analysis to new heat exchangers.
More than 120 representatives of business and academia, in Yorkshire and beyond, attended the event and voted in the competition.
The audience were won over by the benefits of Zyplex – long life, high performance, low maintenance, and from UK recycled plastic. The audience were impressed with the extensive testing programme and the wide range of applications it has supported.
We make products from retaining walls to boardwalks to porous paving, for sectors as diverse as building and construction, marine and equestrian. And the great thing about working here is we are every bit as committed to continuing pushing the boundaries as when I arrived in 2008.
Innovation is at the heart of everything we do here and now I’ve got an iPad to prove it!
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Monday, 21 November 2011
We’re concerned by the Government’s proposal to cut back the Feed-in Tariffs (FITs), a scheme they only introduced in April 2010 but which has already led to a significant increase in investment in low-carbon electricity projects.
Our concern is that the proposal flies in the face of the Government’s commitment to helping create a sustainable future for the UK - a quest in which we, as the manufacturers of Zyplex, a high performance plastic made from 100% recycled plastic which might otherwise go to landfill, are very much involved .
FITs are incentives to householders and businesses to generate electricity by having solar panels placed on locations such as roofs. The tariffs’ success is demonstrated by the fact that 16,000 schemes of this sort were installed during September alone, double the number in June, and that over 100,000 with a capacity of over 400MW have appeared since the incentives took effect in April 2010.
Posted by Iplas at 15:07
Friday, 11 November 2011
More than 10,000 new jobs could be created in the UK if our Government followed California’s lead and exploited the job generating power of plastic recycling.
The American state has just implemented a law (Assembly Bill (AB) 1149) aimed at creating and supporting thousands of jobs at home by massively reducing the 200,000 tonnes of plastic bottles it exports annually for reprocessing, many to China. It’s one of the latest plastic recycling market development initiatives California has implemented in a series which began in 2000.
Mark Murray, executive director of the Californians against Waste pressure group estimates that the plastic market programme in California already supports more than 750 jobs but the state is collecting enough plastic to sustain four to five times that number. The new legislation should provide a massive step towards fulfilling that employment potential.
Applying a similar multiplier in the UK, we could generate 10,500 new jobs in UK plastics recycling, by taking similar steps.
According to a report by Friends of the Earth, carried out last year, recycling makes employment sense in the UK, creating 10 times more jobs per tonne than sending rubbish to landfill or incineration. That’s because recycling means jobs being generated in collection, sorting and reprocessing, in addition to the supply chain and wider industry.
Here at Iplas, at our base in Halifax, West Yorkshire, we have illustrated this point by growing from a standing start in 1999 to today employing 58 people making Zyplex – our high performance recycled plastic – and a range of high quality recycled plastic products including benches, fencing, decking and Zypave porous paving. It’s therefore obvious to us that encouraging recycling could play an important part in reviving the UK economy. Such initiatives are sorely needed, given that unemployment has recently reached a record high.
Estimates suggest the UK sends at least 760,000 tonnes of plastic rubbish abroad for recycling each year. Like California, we despatch much of this to China - the nation which drives the global reprocessing trade, importing more than eight million tonnes of waste plastic a year.
When we export this material to countries such as China, we’re also exporting jobs, which could just as easily exist here, if appropriate steps were taken to support them.
We collect millions of used bottles each year and ship them off to China, losing a valuable commodity. The Chinese then put their own people to work on them and add value by reprocessing them into things like clothes and accessories, which they sell back to us, at a profit. It just doesn’t make sense.
Exporting huge quantities of plastic waste to China is also potentially damaging environmentally, since the UK has no control over standards applied elsewhere. And a further effect of the mass-export of plastics to China is that local recycling initiatives here are being starved of materials.
The 2010 study by Friends of the Earth said 51,400 jobs would be created in the UK if 70 per cent of the waste collected by local councils was recycled here. The report said another 18,800 jobs would be created if commercial and industrial waste was recycled at the same time. It’s time our Government listened to the figures.
Posted by Iplas at 14:50
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
It’s alarming to think that, over the next five years, the supply of used plastic bottles might not be enough to meet the demands of organisations like Iplas, manufacturers of recycled plastic products. That’s the stark warning from RECOUP (Recycling of Used Plastics Ltd), the national charity for developing plastics recycling in the UK, in their recently published UK Household Plastics Packaging Collection Survey 2011.
We are, of course, among the organisations who reuse plastic bottles, as they’re one of the vital raw materials in Zyplex – our high performance recycled plastic, made from 100% UK waste which might otherwise go to landfill. Zyplex products used in sustainable construction and other sectors include decking, fencing, outdoor furniture and Zypave porous paving.
RECOUP acknowledges that much progress has been made during recent years in stimulating supply of the bottles to organisations like Iplas. It points out, for example, that in 2010:
- nearly 22 million households in the UK benefited from a plastic bottle kerbside collection
- 48.5 per cent of plastic bottles were collected, 2.5 per cent up on the 2009 figure and more than 45 per cent higher than the level a decade earlier
- the number of bring-collection points for bottles had more than trebled since 2000.
This is not least because the rate in growth of plastic bottle collections is slowing. Amounts collected in recent years were 216,000 tonnes in 2008; 263,000 tonnes in 2009; and 281,000 tonnes in 2010.
So what’s to be done? There’s undoubtedly an argument for improving bring schemes, through local authorities providing more of them and paying proper attention to factors such as location, layout and equipment, all of which have been shown to improve recovery rates.<.p>
But there’s not much doubt that kerbside collections really hold the key to dramatically improving that 2.5 per cent figure. With the widest possible coverage and the right collection frequency, receptacles and vehicles, these can really make a difference. According to WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), kerbside schemes yield at least four times as many plastic bottles as bring schemes, and collections from them cost less per tonne. This chimes with a survey of 1,000 shoppers conducted by food and grocery research specialists IGD earlier this year. That showed 37 per cent of shoppers would recycle more materials if councils collected these near their homes.
Hats off to the local authorities who are working hard to improve and extend their kerbside collections. Actions like these, allied to councils making collections more cost-effective, through efficient handling and baling, alongside maximising returns through effective communication campaigns, have to be the way forward.
Posted by Iplas at 17:57
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
Good news from Robert Wiseman dairies. They have been thinking about the long term effect of bottle tops in the waste stream and have decided to remove colourant from their milk bottle caps to make them more recyclable: the new tinted caps also enable them to increase the level of recycled plastic in their bottles. This is a great example of a big company making commercial sense on recycling.
The dairy industry alone uses two billion plastic bottle tops a year in the UK. Add to that drinks bottles, pharmaceutical containers, deodorants, cleaning products - even your Pringle "pop" top and you have billions upon billions of caps each year which could be collected and reformed into something new.
So surely local authorities are making the most of this versatile recycled waste stream already?
There are 232 local authorities in the UK, most of whom collect bottles but not bottle tops. How can this be so, when all bottle reprocessing plants separate off the caps and send them to other recyclers? The sad fact is that if you look at local authority waste collections you would struggle to find two that operate in the same way.
Surely it's time for a single local authority waste strategy and a nationwide code on what we should and should not collect? A code which communicates the consistent message that plastic is a multi use, reusable raw material that is great in the hands of recyclers, but not very good in landfill. Here at Iplas, plastic bottle tops are one of the most important raw materials that we use to make into many different types of high quality recycled plastic products.
So well done Robert Wiseman: good recyclable materials getting into the hands of the recycling aware and well intentioned British public. Now it's over to the local authorities to get it back into the hands of the recyclers.
Posted by Iplas at 09:50
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
We have just had another week of attention-grabbing activity on waste from the politicians. Front page headlines have been trumpeting how the government is getting tough on plastic bags; how the Welsh government is introducing a tax for the said offending items, and how there's going to be a handout for local authorities to collect the bins once a week.
None of these are new stories and arguably they do little to really combat the "throw-away society" we have become. While it is essential that efforts are made to reduce unnecessary packaging and to encourage alternative solutions, we should be careful not to forget the other 2 R's in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra.
Let's take plastic bags first. Like many families, I am sure, the plastic bags that we use to bring home our supermarket shopping are reused during the week as bin liners. Adding a plastic bag tax will not prevent plastic bags being sent to landfill, they will just be called bin liners instead.
Secondly, while the UK government invests in the "basic right" to have your bins collected weekly, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15118516, other European governments have taken a different approach.
They have invested in the infrastructure that allows the collection, sorting and resale of low value packaging products that are then turned into high value recycled building materials, at competitive prices. This in turn gives a boost to those countries' home economies, creating local employment.
To be truly environmentally responsible in the long term, the government should be encouraging product/packaging designers to research and design cradle to cradle products rather than pushing the problem further down the chain. We have something to learn from our European neighbours.
Posted by Iplas at 11:27
Thursday, 1 September 2011
In recent years irregular weather patterns have increasingly lead to widespread flooding and disruption. I’m sure we all remember the images of bridges being washed away and flooded houses last year and having travelled in a very wet Scotland last week, there were already several washed out roads.
Thames Water is planning to build a £3.5bn 'super sewer' to prevent overflow from the current Victorian system being diverted directly into the Thames. Some argue this is a sensible option – after all, just as widening a motorway should help congestion, building bigger drains should help the water problem in the same way – but will it?
Constructing a massive new deep tunnel system will be incredibly disruptive and costly and could, in a relatively short period of time, still be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water passing through it. More than this, merely building a temporary solution does not address the root cause of this problem, which is primarily surface run-off of rain water.
Posted by Iplas at 10:15