Andy Cummins, Senior Product Manager at Geocel, looks at how switching to sustainable product alternatives can make a big difference in reducing on-site waste – and help the trades do their bit for the environment.
While its impact is more widely understood than ever, the UK’s problem with plastic pollution continues. According to a Government study conducted in 2016, the UK’s plastic packaging waste that year ammounted to approximately 1.53 million tonnes – a 24 per cent increase in comparison with 2010. In fact, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) estimates that by 2030, this number could rise to as much as 6.3 million tonnes. As a result, our landfill capacity is rapidly diminishing, which is having a devastating effect on wildlife as plastic finds its way into seas and waterways.
The construction sector is a key contributor to these alarming plastic statistics. The industry consumes around 23 per cent of all plastic produced in the UK, leading to an estimated 50,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year. This has resulted in heavy criticism, with the Environmental Agency recently labelling the construction sector as the worst offender for generating contaminated waste. This came after thousands of tonnes of contaminated plastic film produced by the sector were blocked from exportation at UK ports. It was statistics such as these that led 95 per cent of respondents in a recent Considerate Constructors Scheme survey to state that the industry needs to make a change.
For professional tradespeople, remember that there has also been a significant shift in the mindset of homeowners, who are more environmentally conscious than ever. A growing number are willing to compromise price to make sure they are doing what they can to protect the environment. This is especially true for those under the age of 24, meaning the demand for trades that do consider the environment in their everyday work – is likely to increase in the future.
Further incentive to cut down on plastic waste is being provided by the Government, which has implemented numerous tax regulations. With non-hazardous landfill capacity in England quickly diminishing, landfill costs have more than trebled since 2008, and currently sits at £94.14 per tonne; a figure that is expected to carry on getting higher. From April 2022, a further tax will be introduced on companies, which produce or import plastic packaging with insufficient recycled content. This will inevitably lead to an increase in the cost to produce many products or packaging made from 100 per cent virgin plastic, which will in turn affect the price to the trade and the end customer.
It’s clear that in all areas of construction – we need to change the way we work – and the sooner the better. One product that contributes significantly to plastic waste is the traditional sealant cartridge system. Every year, 100 million of these plastic cartridges are sent to landfill. In theory, these can be recycled. However, it is impossible to completely clear the cartridges of residue, and so they are classed as ‘contaminated’ waste.
Thankfully, there is a solution. For example, Geocel has launched the ecoSEAL system, which looks to replace the traditional plastic cartridge with a re-usable sleeve alternative. The adhesive or sealant product is supplied in a foil sausage, which is then placed within the sleeve and loaded into any standard gun, ready for use as normal.
Switching to a product such as this is a minor change yet has the potential to reduce plastic waste output significantly. The empty foils are eight times smaller than empty traditional cartridges, making them around 60 per cent lighter too – crucial for companies that pay to dispose of their waste by weight. Furthermore, the ecoSEAL sleeve can be reused up to 75 times before it is then recycled.
With popular products available such as Geocel’s Painters Mate, THE WORKS PRO and DOWSIL 785+, 796 and 799 aluminium foils, tradespeople can easily switch to a more sustainable solution without compromising on the quality of the product they use.
If you want to try the ecoSEAL system for free, Geocel has recently launched the ecoSEAL Challenge. Participants will be asked to select their choice of a sealant or adhesive from the available options, which they will get alongside a reusable ecoSEAL sleeve. To take the ecoSEAL Challenge visit https://www.geocel.co.uk/about-us/will-you-take-the-ecoseal-challenge/
For more information on the Geocel range visit https://www.geocel.co.uk/