Balfour Beatty develops closed loop process for plastic waste
Balfour Beatty is recycling waste plastic from its sites into cable protection covers for use during utility maintenance work in what is thought to be an industry first.
The company's specialist division, Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions, has developed the closed loop process in partnership with plastics recycler Centriforce. Under the initiative, waste plastic is being collected from up to 100 of Balfour Beatty's UK sites.
By accepting the plastic back as a usable product, the scheme allows Balfour Beatty to keep complete control of this particular waste stream. The company estimates that up to 200 tonnes of waste plastic could be collected annually in this way.
Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions' general manager for environment & sustainability, Andrew Edlin, said: "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 reuse 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.
Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions' buyer Jade Lawton explained: "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. Our research quickly established that there were very few UK companies with the capabilities we required."
Balfour Beatty then turned to plastic waste reprocessor V10 Polymers, who was already undertaking plastic waste collections from some of its sites, and Centriforce, who was already supplying the cable protection covers, to develop the process.
Mixed plastic waste collected from the sites is reprocessed by V10 Polymers, where it is sorted, cleaned and granulated. The resulting HDPE/LDPE waste plastic feedstock is then delivered to Centriforce's manufacturing centre in Liverpool.
From this feedstock, Centriforce manufactures Stokbord heavy-duty protection tiles which can protect underground utilities such as high-voltage power lines, fibre optic cables, and gas and water pipes.