Centriforce helps Knowsley Safari Park with Stokbord sustainable materials
Knowsley Safari Park is famous for its conservation work and a great day out for the family too.
It’s also a near neighbour of Centriforce in Liverpool and we were delighted to help them out with a new building project they had last summer.
As part of the Park’s development, Knowsley Safari Park had a need to create some additional housing for some new residents, South American Bush Dogs and Bongo Antelope. Although very different species, apparently the bush dogs are the smallest pack hunting dogs and the Bongo are amongst the world’s largest antelope (and have extremely large horns). The power and strength of a bongo together with their capable horns can lead to them causing damage as they test their strength and rub up against the inside of their house!
Not everyone will need to make their building projects ‘bongo proof’ but when Knowsley were looking for materials that were strong enough and tough enough to withstand the rigours of housing these animals, they turned to Centriforce and we were delighted to help them out by supplying them Stokbord recycled plastic sheet and board.
Not only is Stokbord strong and durable enough to cope with the requirements at Knowsley Safari Park, but it has been proven in use over many years in agricultural applications throughout the UK.
Knowsley was particularly keen on the sustainability aspects since the product is made from 100% UK recycled plastics too.
We hope the new residents at Knowsley Safari Park are enjoying their new home and have found their winter accommodation very comfortable!
If you’ve found this article of interest, call us for more information about Stokbord recycled plastic sheet and board.
Centriforce at the Avon Valley Nature Reserve
The Avon Valley Nature Reserve, located on the river Avon near Salisbury, is a wonderful stretch of land in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Highly-thought-of by environmental professionals – the land is a Specialist Area for Conservation – the reserve is also a favourite haunt of walkers, runners, and nature-lovers alike.
To provide access and keep the local ecology in the best possible condition, a wooden walkway was installed by the council, so that locals and visitors could all enjoy the beautiful area without endangering the flora and fauna.
Unfortunately, the existing wooden boardwalk was al but destroyed when heavy winter rains flooded the area. In the aftermath, the land was at risk of damage from walkers and runners, so the city council decided, in consultation with landscape specialists, Aquascience, to replace the destroyed walkway with a recycled plastic boardwalk, which Centriforce was only too pleased to provide.
The new plastic boardwalk offered great durability, with a long lifespan and minimal maintenance, but most importantly it was completely resistant to damage caused by the river or any future flooding. Furthermore, there was no need for additional materials such as chicken wire to provide extra grip for walkers and runners.
The 472 metres of plastic boardwalk proved very popular with local people. Aquascience were delighted by how well the boardwalk established in after just one year from installation. Feedback was extremely positive.
We’re exceptionally happy with how this particular installation turned out. An effective solution for the council, a brand-new boardwalk for visitors, and the recycled plastic means it’s good for the environment too. What’s not to love?
If you’d like to see more of this installation, we’ve made this video on-location, showing the existing section and the extension which was still in the process of being installed.
If you’ve been inspired by this story and would like to hear more about what Centriforce can do, get in touch today by calling 0151 207 8109, or use our handy contact form.
Recycled plastic profiles used to replace a wooden boardwalk
The project forms a walkway alongside the River Avon in the Stratford Sub Castle area. The walkway replaced and extended the existing wooden walkway which had degraded and been destroyed in floods. Salisbury City Councils Parks Management wanted a durable, yet attractive walkway to enhance the area.
Working in conjunction with Salisbury City Council and Aquascience Ltd, Centriforce proposed a design fully compliant with all Disabled Access regulations to replace a wooden boardwalk. Despite a delayed start caused by the flooding, which took months to recede, the project was completed within the planned installation time.
The versatility of the design and products even allowed the layout of the walkway to be modified during construction to accommodate a water vole habitat.
The posts were driven by a handheld hydraulic vibrating rammer meaning that the entire installation was completed efficiently and without the need for heavy machinery.
Recycling is part of the defence against climate change
Sometimes we need to remember why we bother trying to recycle as much as possible?
Well probably the biggest reason is because the planet has finite resources and we need to make sure that we use them responsibly and extract maximum value from these resources. Plastics are just one example of this and far too valuable to use only once – and then dispose or incinerate so efficient plastics recycling is critical.
However climate change is another very important factor and recycling plastic makes a massive saving on water use, energy use and production of gases -especially CO2. So wanted to share an infographic that the UK Met Office has just produced which neatly explains what climate change actually is.
Our disposable society can’t be right for the 21st century
UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee have just published a report entitled, “Growing a Circular Economy: Ending the Throwaway Society” with some quite interesting thoughts and ideas to help the UK improve its environmental performance. Amongst these ideas is the headline grabbing, ‘lower VAT on recycled products’ which is something that has been proposed by some in the industry for many years to counteract our ‘disposable society’.
The Committee proposes a series of ideas which closely ally with ‘the waste hierarchy’. It starts with the principle that we should throwaway less and certainly one way of helping to achieve this is to make better products which last longer. We’ve probably all been frustrated by the cost of a repair bill on a large ticket item being such that it’s almost cheaper to buy a new item – and yet know in our mind that this just doesn’t feel right.
If we have to dispose of something when it has got to the end of its natural life, then clearly it makes sense for the items to be recyclable – but isn’t everything (virtually) recyclable? The issue here is contamination which is the root of many a recycler’s problems. Normally a recycler will be aiming for a key raw material, perhaps, paper, plastic, wood, glass and anything that isn’t the target is effectively contamination. Even within the generic term, ‘plastics’ which is our own area, we have to contend with numerous different types of plastics which have vastly different characteristics and performance.
So therefore purity is king -and getting hold of good quality raw materials with low levels of undesirable materials can often be more difficult that might be imagined.
Government does have an important role to play, by setting a vision and target for society to attain to and rewarding good performance – incentivising people to recycle more and be more ambitious in reducing our dependency on landfill and disposal.
We’ve long felt that providing a stimulus for people to buy recycled goods could be helpful and reducing VAT on recycled products is an interesting idea – but we probably shouldn’t hold our breath. The EU’s recent report on a circular economy suggests that we should be aiming for the capability to recycle over 70% of municipal waste and 80% of packaging wate by 2030. Although we have improved recycled rates significantly over recent years, it is becoming clear that our growth is levelling off and we are going to have to find new and more creative ways to improve our environmental performance as pressure increases on dwindling global resources over the coming decades.
PRNs and their important contribution to driving up UK plastic recycling rates
The PRN is back on the agenda as Government has promised to look into industry concerns that the existing arrangement favours export of waste materials rather than dealing with the materials on our own shores.
Centriforce Products, in common with other plastic recycling companies and the British Plastic Federation (Recycling Group), has long argued that current arrangements do not provide any incentive to invest in UK recycling. We were therefore encouraged when government agreed to look again at existing arrangements to determine whether it does contribute to the behaviour that it wants to develop and specifically at targets to increase plastics packaging recycling 5% year on year over the coming 5 year period.
RECOUP’s annual household waste survey has indicated that we have made great strides in recent years with plastic bottles now above the 50% recycled level. This of course is fantastic news, but clearly there is more to do – not least of which is the ~50% of bottles that are not recycled and which many regard as still low hanging fruit. There is a very clear need to increase recycling rates for non-bottle plastic packaging. According to WRAP , just 12-15% of mixed plastics end up being recycled. Why is this so low?
Perhaps the key lies in improving the quality of recycled plastics feedstocks. Demand in the UK is high for good quality, separated films and bottles, but yet it remains difficult to source the right raw materials since MRF’s are largely orientated to the export market which can take the vast volumes of material outputs.
The export market remains important and will be for the foreseeable future, but balancing PRN and export PRNs (PERNs) may help to improve output quality from MRFs and in turn drive up increased UK recycling activity.
Europe Gets Tougher on Plastics Recycling
SHOULD the UK have to meet tougher targets for recycling plastics waste and eventually ban the landfill of any plastics that could be recycled or recovered?
The European Parliament thinks so. A resolution passed in Brussels last month signalled that MEPs want to get tougher on plastics in the environment ahead of a forthcoming review of European Commission waste policy. MEPs voted in favour of setting binding recycling targets for collecting and sorting up to 80% of the EU’s waste by 2020.
With only 25% of plastics wastes currently being recycled in Europe, MEPs highlighted the untapped potential of the plastics recycling industry to contribute to a solution. The trade association Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) said Europe had potential to recycle up to 62% of plastics by 2020 if the right changes are made to encourage it.
In passing the resolution, the European Parliament was keen to stress that recycling is good for business. Fully enforcing EU legislation on waste could save €72 billion a year, boost the annual turnover of EU waste management and recycling firms by €42 billion, and create over 400,000 jobs by 2020. This recognition of the role of recycling businesses is to be encouraged and we would hope supported by the UK Government, too.
However, the UK Government is against a change the current EU level targets for 2020 as set out in the Waste Framework Directive. It has set its own targets of 57% recycling of plastics packaging waste by 2017 and prefers a more ‘carrot’ than ‘stick’ approach at European level, believing the EU should help all member states to achieve existing targets, before implementing new ones.
The question is what measures are required to improve UK plastics recycling rates? Whatever the targets set at national or European level, creating a favourable infrastructure for recycling plastic needs to be a primary objective including:
Tougher controls on plastics waste sorting to deliver a higher-quality raw material or ‘feedstock’. At the moment lack of controls on sorting co-mingled domestic waste at recycling centres make them unsuitable for us to use. Developing processes that separate out higher quality plastics would hugely increase the potential for plastics recycling.
A level playing field in the PRN and PERN system so that waste producers cannot get more money just by sending their waste overseas.
Incentivising companies (and local authorities) to utilise recycled materials in their products and services. The BPF (British Plastics Federation) has proposed an ‘offset mechanism’ which would allow companies to partially offset their packaging compliance expense if they used recycled materials as a component in their production of new materials and services.
We hope the determination of politicians in Brussels will at least help to drive forward these objectives and help to achieve the full potential for the UK industry.
Biodegradable Bags Are Not A ‘Silver Bullet’
Proposals to exempt biodegradable bags from the planned 5p single-use carrier bag levy in England were rightly questioned in parliament this week.
Centriforce was amongst a number of plastics recyclers who submitted evidence to the inquiry raising concerns about the exemption which we believe is misguided. So we very much welcome the comments of Zac Goldsmith MP at the public evidence hearing on 18th December. He is reported to have said:
“We’ve had a lot of submissions from recyclers who are warning us that the exemption of biodegradable plastics will end up contaminating recyclable plastics and recyclable streams.”
It is encouraging to know that our concerns were raised as part of the public evidence hearing on 18th December and are being given appropriate consideration. We fully support the proposals to introduce the levy on single-use bags from 2015, first announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in September.
However we believe that exempting ‘biodegradable’ plastic bags is misguided on two fronts:
firstly biodegradable materials are specifically designed to degrade, so introducing large quantities in the waste plastics stream could in future pose a significant threat to the long-term stability and durability of any ‘second-use’ products made from waste plastics. It is not clear how waste collection and sorting could be developed to completely eliminate their presence from the recycled plastics waste supply and there is no clear indication that successful separation processes could be implemented.
secondly the exemption sends a mixed message to consumers who will be encouraged to discard carrier bags on the expectation of their being degradable. So the proposal could end up being counterproductive.
Although the official public consultation closed on 9 December, further comments from industry have been invited. The British Plastics Federation has already warned that the proposals could be ‘catastrophic’ for the industry. We hope that the Government will see sense on this issue.
Why Building Boardwalks is Better with Plastic
Boardwalks are the perfect way to provide public access to nature where it would otherwise be difficult, or simply impossible.
Walkways can provide a means of protecting sensitive peat land mosses, for example, or simply providing a bridge over wetlands, lakes and ponds.
Many people might expect walkways to be made of wood. But wood and water are not the best of partners. Plastic profiles are much easier to build with. Take our most recent project at Watermead near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. Local residents are delighted with the new 68-metre long recycled plastic walkway across their lake, which replaced an old wooden structure which was beginning to rot and degrade.
What often surprises our customers is not just the Duraplas® will last longer, but that it has some real advantages in terms of construction. In this case, the alternative solution would have been to construct a bunded gabion wall which would have meant major disruption and long procession of construction lorries through the village. Centriforce worked closely with specialist contractors Environments for People on the design and build.
To begin with, the old walkway had to be dismantled and then supporting posts for the new walkway were driven into the ground. That was difficult, considering that the construction area was submerged. So a floating pontoon supporting a mini digger was used as a means to access the old structure, then pile drive the new posts into two metres of hard clay. There were some key advantages to using Duraplas in the construction which was finished in a few weeks.
• The ‘plastic wood’ posts and planks could be floated to the place they were needed
• The plastic posts do not split when hammered into the ground. Other types of recycled plastic or timber could easily split in the process.
• Duraplas is completely inert in water, unlike treated timber which could leach chemicals into the environment.
• Our contractors tell us Duraplas is a dream to work with. It can be sawn, drilled and bolted just like wood.
• It does not deform, chip or splinter.
• The recycled plastic material also has some elasticity which can be used to bend and curve the handrails, for example to produce a pleasing aesthetic.
A video demonstrating the construction solution is available to view on Centriforce’s YouTube Channel .
Find a Duraplas® boardwalk near you
Are biodegradable plastics a good solution for single use carrier bags?
WRAP recently published some research where they indicated that single use carrier bags (‘SUCB’) have again increased by around 1.2% in 2012 to ~8 billion bags, or approx. 10.7 per supermarket customer per month. Although this seems like a mind-blowingly high number, it is still a 34% decrease when compared with 2006 figures, so at least shows some improvement in recent years.
Obviously supermarket carrier bags are a problem in the litter stream and we all hate to see these bags when they are either lying about the streets or caught up in hedges and trees. The UK Government is clearly looking for a solution to this problem for England (the devolved governments of Wales, Scotland & Ireland have all decided to impose a bag tax already). It is perhaps refreshing that our own government isn’t rushing into imposing another tax on the hard-pressed consumer, but we do wonder if it can withstand the pressure not to legislate on this sometime in the near future and is known to be looking at possible alternative solutions.
So are biodegradable plastics a possible solution?
As a plastics recycler / reprocessor, this is one solution that we’d have some significant concerns on. From a technical angle we’d have major concerns about feedstock which is specifically designed to degrade getting into our raw material supply and being unable (either technically or commercially) to be able to remove this from conventional plastics.
As a business who makes recycled plastic products, a key benefit of these products is their ability to withstand long term ageing when compared with more conventional offerings which are often wood based. Incorporating a biodegradable plastic into our raw material stream would be expected to impact physical properties, long term physical ageing as well as surface properties. At best, it could seriously undermine our existing markets for these materials.
Additionally, we’d have concerns about whether putting biodegradable plastics into supermarket single use carrier bags would send very confusing messages to the consumer. Surely its better to concentrate on the core message that its better to either prevent waste or recycle it? Perhaps the consumer would think that it can throw these bags away and that they’ll simply degrade into the environment? We’d also have to ask whether we’re solving the right problem.
Apparently SUCB make up only around 1% of the domestic waste stream and although they have nuisance value when trapped in trees and hedge rows, you tend to not see them so much in the countryside – but yet do see plenty of discarded (plastic) bottles and similar.
Let’s keep the consumer focused and use the waste hierarchy as our guiding principles.
Prevention first. If we can’t prevent something going to waste, let’s do our best to recycle and re-use instead.