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The End Of Fossilised Thinking?

3 August 2017

The end of fossilized thinking?

With the Government seeking to eliminate fossil fuel vehicles – from 2040 onward – isn’t it about time we, as an industry looked at similar measures and be a pioneer in reducing usage?


The following is unashamedly nicked from a social media post that has gone semi-viral (i.e. has 6,500 likes, 10,000 shares and 2,000 comments). In it, the author wishes that he would be alive in 2040, when the Government ban on petrol and diesel engines in private, new cars becomes effective; and continues in amusing vein:


“I want to see the chaos and Health & Safety issues when people who don't have a garage or off road parking have cables strewn across the pavements (and maybe half a mile down the road to where the nearest parking space was when they came home).


Also where is all of the extra electricity going to come from as, from what we're told, the power stations and the national grid are already running to full capacity?


Will the yobs of the time be cutting and nicking all of these copper cables, and where is all of the copper needed to make them going to come from? And come to that, where is the lithium needed for the batteries going to come from? And what about the environmental damage that is caused by copper and lithium mining?


What will happen when 100s of people get stuck on the motorway in winter when the (less efficient in cold weather) batteries are unexpectedly flattened by heaters and lights? Will the AA/ RAC have electric vehicles too? If so how will they cope with towing 3 ton cars to the nearest (available) chargers?”. And so on.


It's quite jolly and plainly resonates with a lot of people; although one wouldn't suggest for a nano-second that it’s entirely thought out. For instance, the author doesn’t seem to think there will be any improvements in technology – especially battery technology – in the years to come; and that the new dawn of electric vehicles will rise in a society 23 years hence that will be the same as 2017 is now (as if 2017 is much like 1994).


Yet what he – and the Government in its targeting petrol and diesel cars – encourage us to do is consider the role of carbon materials as both fuels and raw materials; and how we address their usage in the future.


This is particularly pertinent in the PVC-U sector, as one of our key raw materials is oil. (The other is salt, yet nobody seems too concerned about that. At the moment). With oil resources under pressure – and destined to eventually become extinct – what steps can be taken to reduce our reliance on fossil-based substances.


Plainly, electric heavy haulage is a long way off – even the Government plan doesn’t consider this – as battery power is ultimately limited in the kind of forces needed to shift 40 tonnes of anything up the road.


Yet we are truly striving hard to not only reduce the amount of materials we need that come out of the ground; but also prevent waste materials returning to it. This virtuous circle is obvious: the more we recycle, the less we send to waste and the less raw material we require and you may have noticed us banging on about it quite a bit of late.


Merritt Plastics is Eurocell’s own recycling division and the UK’s largest recycling facility for PVC-U doors and windows. 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.


This ‘closed loop recycling’ is all part of the so-called ‘circular economy’ – something that is only going to get bigger, and more valuable, over time. Eurocell’s recycling saves around 500,000 window frames and doors from landfill every year. And it processes 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, nearly all production waste is re-used.


So: it may not save the oil resources of the world – it may be a drop in the ocean – yet it is indicative of our commitment not to unnecessarily consume valuable fossil-based resources; while unshackling our growth from the limitations set by a requirement for new raw materials. It’s a win-win.

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