Business Goes Round In Circles
6 July 2017
The BSI Group has developed a new standard for the ‘circular economy’ but does it go far enough, asks Chris Coxon, Head of Marketing at Eurocell.
The evolution of sustainability is continuing, as BS 8001 shows. Billed as “The world’s first standard for implementing the principles of the circular economy in organisations”, it is the latest step forward in the development of environmental thinking that started way back in the 1960s with books such as Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’.
The new standard is very welcome, because it further confirms that sustainability is far beyond a ‘new age’ preoccupation and that there is a serious business case for it. If business relies upon resources that cannot be renewed, then it limits its own growth. If, instead, you can use re-use material, then your growth is unshackled from these resources.
The BSI says that the circular economy is one of the biggest economic growth opportunities to have been identified for many years and quotes a report from the consultancy McKinsey & Co that calculates its net economic benefit in Europe alone will be worth €1.8 trillion by 2030.
But it does not mention that parts of the construction industry have been doing this for years. Manufacturers of plasterboards, for instance, have dedicated skips on site so that waste board can be returned to their plants and be re-used. Eurocell has its own recycling division, Merritt Plastics: the UK’s largest recycling facility for PVC-U doors and windows.
Our recycling stops around 500,000 window frames and doors going to landfill, in a process we call ‘closed loop recycling’, taking out the old PVC-U windows and doors, removing all the PVC-U and then making completely new doors and windows. We process up to around 6,000 tonnes per year that is recycled to produce a variety of new products, from thermal inserts to the Modus window system. In this way, we reuse nearly all our production waste.
We go the extra mile, literally, by collecting PVC-U waste from fabricators free of charge for processing at our recycling plant, or directly from trade customers, so they do not have to pay costly landfill charges.
What is missing from this new British Standard is the sense that ‘recycled’ does not mean ‘inferior’, like ‘remould’ does for tyres. We would not compromise the quality of our products and we do not have to: PVC-U can be repurposed up to 10 times without any deterioration in its quality or performance. So, we use ‘post-consumer’ material to make doors and windows that are superior by every measure to the aged, ‘old fashioned’ products that have been re-cycled. They are more attractive, more secure and more thermally efficient.
And that should be the aspiration for any business that wants to be part of a circular economy, repurposing material to manufacture even better products.