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Pioneers in Sustainable Manufacturing

Productivity and technological progress are the throbbing heart of economic development, which is why manufacturing is so crucial. Most technological breakthroughs, after all, have emerged from the manufacturing sector. Think: the aircraft, steam engine, internal combustion engine.

In fact, efficiency across nearly all sectors has improved thanks to advances in manufacturing. And that throws up responsibilities as well as opportunities for manufacturers. In a world of increasing market volatility, shorter product life cycles and higher product complexity, manufacturers have to be more innovative and flexible, responsive to customer needs and – above all – sustainable.

Certainly these are some of the key drivers that have influenced the continuing growth and development of RPC bpi recycled products, as the company’s sales director Lorcan Mekitarian explains: “Technology is advancing at speed and some manufacturers struggle to keep up, let alone stay at the leading edge. Firms that successfully launch innovation in manufacturing must have a strong strategy and a culture that both nurtures and encourages innovation at all levels of the business, not just the executive team.”

RPC bpi recycled products is a leading UK polythene recycler based in Heanor, Derbyshire, and one of the largest in Europe. A sizeable part of its business centres on preserving the environment by upcycling waste material into second-life products, made from recycled plastic.

The company has the scope and expertise to recycle over 70,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year, giving new life to polythene from commercial, industrial, packaging and agricultural sources. This recycled plastic is transformed into products such as refuse sacks and items including fencing, decking, playground equipment and benches.

The need for such products and services came into sharp focus recently when the Government published details in January of its 25-year Environmental Plan. Ministers vowed to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042, improve the natural environment and throw much more emphasis on innovation in plastics to keep it out of landfill and our oceans.

As concepts of the circular economy such as these have taken hold across the globe, RPC bpi recycled products has forged compelling solutions to environmental problems. Every tonne of polythene the company recycles, for example, saves 1.8 tonnes of crude oil, reduces energy usage by two thirds, entails 90 per cent less water and cuts sulphur dioxide emissions by 33 per cent.

RPC bpi recycled products operates four UK sites, from Gloucestershire to Dumfries, and is part of British Polythene Ltd which was purchased in August 2016 by RPC Group Plc – a plastic products design and engineering company with over 194 operations in 34 countries, more than 20,000 staff and a research and development budget that keeps it at the forefront of technological advances.

By focusing investment on the twin towers of innovation and customer service, RPC bpi recycled products has pioneered several market-leading products. Reprocessing highly contaminated agricultural waste has enabled the company to use the recovered material to develop The Green Sack: it is now the UK’s leading refuse sack brand and specifically tailored to meeting customers’ growing environmental demands.

Such innovation pays dividends. Just before Christmas the company won a Green Apple Environment Award at a ceremony in the Houses of Parliament. This is an annual international competition promoting environmental best practices, and RPC bpi recycled products’ award was in recognition of its best practices which have resulted in the company achieving Valpak accreditation for ‘ Zero Waste to Landfill’ across 75% of its sites.

Lorcan Mekitarian adds: “Creating a sustainable culture is a core commitment to both our customers and the environment and part of our group strategy, with dedicated investment, targets and measures in place. We hope our best practice in achieving zero waste to landfill will inspire other companies to do the same.”

The company’s focus on environmentally sound products as well as best practices has also led to a host of ISO accreditations recognising the sustainable thrust of its manufacturing. The recycled farm waste plastics used to make the company’s award-winning Green Sack range, for example, has a carbon footprint estimated to be at least 35 per cent less than any other refuse sack in the UK. This is no one-off.

In addition, in December 2017 Plaswood – part of RPC bpi recycled products – won a Horners Award for Plastic Innovation and Design for lock gates made from Plaswood. Plaswood takes its name from a maintenance-free, sustainable and cost-effective alternative to concrete, steel and wood. Manufactured in the UK, it is made from 100% recycled plastic.

Launched in 1947 the Horners Award is one of the longest established design awards for plastics in the world. The annual award is run jointly by the British Plastics Federation (BPF) and the Worshipful Company of Horners and recognises significant innovation in design, environmental advantages and commercial potential.

Mike Baxter, External Affairs Director at RPC bpi recycled products, said: “As a business we take our green credentials, our dedication to sustainability and the circular economy very seriously and Plaswood is an eco-friendly alternative to non-renewable materials. We are proud to have our environmental commitments and product innovation formally recognised.”

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