Sheffield-based SME, Intelligent Facility Solutions (Intelligent) is a supplier of low energy hand and hairdryers, eco heating, sensor taps and accessories. Intelligent’s commitment to environmental and social sustainability is now the central focus of the business as it finds innovative ways of reducing carbon footprint in buildings and investing in environmental and social projects. ‘Ten Minute Tidy’ is one such project, a daily 10-minute litter pick undertaken by staff.
In Sheffield, only high-grade plastic can be recycled. This includes everyday items such as milk bottles, drink containers and many kitchen and bathroom products. However, low-grade plastics like food pots, tubs and trays are unable to be recycled and often incinerated or sent to landfill.
As part of their sustainability commitment, Intelligent wanted to find ways they could give low-grade plastics a new purpose, including turning the plastic into a fine, compactable version that could be condensed to give rigidity and weight to new products or creating a viable secondary product. Intelligent didn’t have the knowledge or resources to undertake the research necessary to identify the plastic waste hierarchy and investigate associated shredding equipment that might prove suitable for recycling purposes.
What we did
Through the Sheffield Innovation Programme (SIP), Dr Olalekan Ojedokun from our Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI) was engaged to undertake this consultancy project. Dr Ojedokum used his expertise to classify plastic wastes into different hierarchies to determine which plastic recycling would take centre stage in the research. He then researched a range of plastic waste shredders, identifying operational specifications and manufacturers that could support the potential applications of the recycled plastic wastes. The outputs Intelligent received through the SIP project included:
- A report on plastic waste recycling and their potential applications.
- Research on potential applications of recycled plastics, focusing on the development of ecobricks using low density polyethylene (LDPE) for lightweight applications in buildings.
- A detailed report on plastic waste shredding which contained information on the different types of shredders for plastic wastes and their manufacturers, operational capacity, technical data and cost.
As a result of the new knowledge and insight provided by the Sheffield Innovation Programme, Intelligent are now working in partnership with Amey, Sheffield City Council’s sub-contractor, discussing their current provision for recycling LDPE. Intelligent has joined forces with international organisation, 1% for the Planet, and the independent charity, Keep Britain Tidy, to scale up their litter collections on a voluntary basis through the business community, which continues to provide the source of LDPE for recycling.
“The research gave us an insight into how we can potentially connect our litter picking initiatives to create a more productive ‘closed loop’ for the low-quality LDPE we collect. The current local council recycling provision is limited, and we need to find ways of reusing/recycling waste outside the mainstream contracts.”Andrew CameronFounder, Intelligent Facility Solutions