Waste materials used in mainstream washing machines

A leading manufacturer of household appliances has taken the first steps towards making its machinery out of recycled materials.

Indesit, perhaps better known in the UK for its Hotpoint product line, has been working with the government-funded Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and Axion Recycling to find ways that waste material can be recycled and used in a large scale in its products.

The company is now sourcing plastics from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) produced in the UK and using it for the front plates in two of its top end Hotpoint washing machines - the Aquarius and Ultima.

The material has been produced using shredded plastic waste recovered from domestic fridges, and made into a high grade polymer that has a similar weight to the virgin plastic it is replacing.

As a result, the CO2 emissions, cumulative cost and raw material savings from this activity are significant.

The company is hoping the greener washing machines will be a hit with customers and WRAP has recently released research saying many consumers claim they would favour an electrical product which used recycled materials, providing its performance and price were not adversely affected.

Peter Maddox, head of manufacturing at WRAP said: "This groundbreaking project has demonstrated that closed-loop recycling in electrical equipment from UK WEEE is commercially viable on a large scale for the first time, with no negative effect on performance.

"We encourage other manufacturers to follow this example.

"Our recent research has also demonstrated that some consumers are willing to buy products that contain some recycled content over those that do not - further strengthening the business argument for this approach."

Mike Birch, environment manager at Indesit, added: "Having successfully completed the trial, we now plan to roll out the innovation to a range of our washing machines and washer dryers that are produced each year. The cumulative cost and raw material savings will be significant.

"For us the improved price was an enabler to help deliver a project with environmental benefits - we felt it was the right thing to do.

"We are now considering how further environmental improvements and savings can be made by using recycled content within other components and parts, throughout our manufacturing operation."

Sam Bond



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