Balfour Beatty's first for construction waste management

January 04, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions, a specialist business within the global Balfour Beatty Group, has formed a new closed loop recycling scheme with Centriforce, the leading UK plastics recycler, and V10 Polymers.

Believed to be a first for waste management in the utilities industry, the scheme allows for waste plastic collected from up to 100 of Balfour Beatty's sites throughout the UK to be recycled into cable protection covers for use during the company's essential work in replacing and maintaining vital utility assets.

The waste management scheme sets an important example of environmental best practice by achieving a true 'closed loop' in which Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions keeps complete control of its plastics waste stream and accepts it back as a usable product.
"We are not aware of any other UK construction company achieving this closed loop," said Simon Carroll, Managing Director of Centriforce, whose innovations team helped to initiate the service.  

It is estimated that between 150 and 200 tonnes of waste plastic could be collected annually and turned into a range of products for Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions. This amounts to an estimated carbon saving of between 2,000 and 2,500 tonnes across the process of manufacturing new products, through landfill avoidance and the reduced need for virgin raw materials*.

Andrew Edlin, Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions' General Manager Environment and Sustainability, commented on the scheme:
"This project is a fantastic demonstration of our 2020 Vision for sustainability, showing innovative work with our supply chain, preventing waste to landfill, utilising recycled products and reducing the carbon impacts of what we do with our clients."

The project was co-ordinated by the company's materials and equipment buying team, who set out to investigate recycling waste plastic into products for re-use in the business. A key objective was also to identify opportunities to eliminate disposal costs and generate revenue by selling plastic waste to specialist collection firms.  

"At the outset of the project we established that the way we disposed of plastic waste, such as pipes and construction barriers, was a mixed picture around the country. While some was sold to local recyclers, a significant proportion was collected by waste management companies for incineration or landfill," said Jade Lawton, a Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions' buyer.

"Our research quickly established that there were very few UK companies with the capabilities we required. However plastic waste reprocessor V10 Polymers was already undertaking plastic waste collections from some of our sites and Centriforce was already a major supplier of cable protection covers for BBUSL."

Centriforce's innovation team then worked with Balfour Beatty to advise on the establishment of the national closed loop scheme. V10 Polymers is an experienced waste plastic collection and separation specialist with a nationwide fleet of skip collections. The company has been appointed to provide a national plastic waste collection service covering operations from Balfour Beatty's 12 main depots and 20 satellite offices.

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions site personnel will alert V10 to collect mixed plastic waste from site within a maximum of 48 hours. It is then transported to V10's Blackburn reprocessing centre, where it is sorted, cleaned and granulated. The resulting HDPE/LDPE waste plastic feedstock is then delivered to Centriforce's Liverpool manufacturing centre.

From this feedstock, Centriforce manufactures Stokbord® heavy-duty protection tiles which are used widely throughout the world to protect underground utilities such as high-voltage power lines, fibre optic cables, and gas and water pipes. Stokbord cable covers are made from 100% recycled polyethelene and provide a realistic alternative to concrete covers and steel plate.

"Because this has never been done before, we are not sure exactly how much plastic waste will be recovered at this stage", said David Holt Managing Director of V10 Polymers. "However, we expect that some 150 to 200 tonnes of plastic could be collected annually. This equates to an estimated carbon saving of between 2,000 and 2,500 tonnes*.

Simon Carroll from Centriforce concluded: "The success of the whole project depends on bringing together companies with sufficient depth of experience in waste plastic recycling. V10's experience of reprocessing mixed waste plastic schemes is essential, as is Centriforce's ability to manufacture high-performance100% recycled products. We are confident we can make the scheme a success."

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