Using Plastic More Sustainably – How We Recycle Our Waste Material

Copely Recycling PVC Process

Over the past few years, it’s become more and more apparent that plastic waste is an issue in the UK and across the globe. Plastics can take anywhere from ten years, to a thousand years to break down, meaning that a lot of it ends up sitting in landfill or finds its way into the ocean, where it can affect marine life.

Research shows that people in the UK throw away around 295 billion pieces of plastic every year, much of which is single-use only and cannot be recycled. (Source)

As the UK’s largest manufacturer of hose, tube, and profiles, we use a wide range of material to create or products. Annually we use around 75 tonnes of PP (polypropylene), 100 tonnes of HDPE (high-density polyethylene), and 150 tonnes of PA (nylon). A majority of our products feature PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and so, we can use up to 3,000 tonnes of raw PVC material a year.

Although none of the products we manufacture are considered single-use, we’re still conscious of the amount of materials we use and the effect that plastic can have on the environment. Which is why we implement a number of methods to help to reduce the amount of material waste we create.

Since PVC is our most used material, it is our biggest priority to make sure that we recycle it appropriately.

Our process for PVC recycling takes place in our very own factory. The waste, which is mainly from scraps or product that doesn’t meet our high standards, is transferred to our granulation room. Here it is fed into one of two granulator machines. One is designed to process flexible PVC tubing, while the other processes reinforced hoses where the yarn needs to be separated from the plastic.

The machines grind down the PVC into small particles, which can then be fed back into our extruders and used to make new products.

Copely PVC Granulated

We’re able to recycle both of our most common materials this way and are able to use both processed materials to make new products.

Our PA waste is also recycled in a similar way, to enable us to make more products, such as Spiralflex Nylon, which is made from 100% recycled polyamide.

Copely Recycled PA

While our PVC and PA plastic waste is recycled and handled in our factory. We send our other material waste, such as HDPE and PP, to K2, one of our recycling partners, where it is sorted, cleaned and reprocessed.

Very few of the materials we use cannot be recycled, and the main source is mixed plastics, where two different polymers are combined. These plastics are known to be difficult to recycle, as once the materials have been mixed, separating them can result in a loss of quality.

While we currently don’t have the facility needed to recycle mixed materials, one of our recycling partners, PLASgran, does. We send our mixed material waste over to them, where it is reprocessed back into useable granules.

Like in any manufacturing process, the creation of some scrap is inevitable. When changing the colour on an extrusion line, the material is run through until the colour fades, resulting in waste material. These would have once been unusable, but thanks to our recycling partners it can be reprocessed and utilised to create more product.

PVC Scrap Material Example

We’re making great strides forward, in that a vast majority of our waste materials are now recycled. These recycled materials go on to make useable products, ensuring that the valuable resources involved are not wasted.

Recycling reduces the need for raw materials, which in turn means that our carbon footprint is reduced. Huge amounts of energy are also used when making products straight from raw materials, whereas recycling requires much less energy and so helps to preserve natural resources.

Our aim for the future is to use recycled material in more and more products. We also aim to cut down on the amount of raw materials we use, and that those we do use are able to be recycled, either by us or through our recycling partners.

If you have any questions about our products or processes please get in touch with your account manager.

Read more of our articles