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Make way for the eco warrior

Jun 2018 Busbar & Trunking, Cable & Wire | Comments Off on Make way for the eco warrior
Make way for the eco warrior

Marshall-Tufflex trunking products boast an average of more than 80% recycled material and it wants to drive up the eco credentials of cable management solutions throughout the supply chain

Ask an electrical contractor to name five facts about cable management manufacturer Mar-shall-Tufflex and it’s likely they’ll come up with: quality, hard-wearing, easy to install, huge range and good looks. Readily available and competitively priced may also gain a mention but it’s unlikely they will tell you that its PVC-U trunking solutions are manufactured using an aver-age of more than 80% of recycled material. Or that each year its recycling efforts divert almost 4,000 tonnes of used PVC-U from landfill.

It’s a great environmental story and one that the British manufacturer is now looking to involve the entire supply chain in with a drive to encourage all PVC-U cable management specifications and installations to be a minimum 50% recycled material.

“It’s a little known fact that Marshall-Tufflex has been using recycled plastics in its products for more than 20 years,” says Marshall-Tufflex CEO Paul Hetherington. “Company founder Harold Cirket pioneered plastic extrusion in the UK more than 75 years ago and his spirit of research, development and innovation remains at the heart of what we do. Over the last two decades we’ve been steadily increasing the amount of recycled PVC-U in our cable management and we now want our contractor customers, specification partners and end user clients to join us in driving forward this environmental initiative,” he adds.

100% recycled

Achieving the 50% recycled threshold is completely achievable using Marshall-Tufflex solutions; some of its extruded products – for example. mini, maxi and conduit products – are already made from 100% recycled PVC-U. Marshall-Tufflex is currently using an average of around 80% recycled content across its product range, with the exact figure changing from month to month, depending upon the product mix being manufactured.

But it’s not just about promoting its own systems; Marshall-Tufflex would like to see the entire cable management industry making greater use of recycled material, not only to reduce the amount of re-usable plastics going into landfill (where it takes decades to degrade) but also to lower the demand for virgin PVC-U, which has oil as its main constituent.

“Our aim is to drive up the eco credentials of cable management solutions throughout the sup-ply chain,” adds Paul. “Obviously bringing specifiers on board is crucial to getting the environ-mental message embedded in specifications but contractors are also critical because specifica-tions do get changed and when that happens we at least want a product of equal eco creden-tials to be purchased and installed.

“Already a lot of large building/electrical contractors, local authorities and multinationals have clauses specifying the use of a certain percentage of recycled materials in their construction projects. Cable management hasn’t really been included in this debate but we think the time is now right for this to happen. We hope that by starting the debate and raising the issue more informed decisions can be made. We take our impact on the environment seriously and want the rest of the sector to join us.”

“We’d like to see the whole cable management industry recycling as much as possible,” says Paul. “It stops plastic waste going to landfill, prevents more raw materials being used and con-tributes to the circular economy. The circular economy is defined by WRAP (Waste and Re-sources Action Programme) as keeping resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use and then recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life.

Window on waste

In common with many suppliers, Marshall-Tufflex has always re-used scrap material, off-cuts etc produced during the manufacturing process. However, some years ago it decided to step up its eco credentials by buying in recycled PVC-U material made from post-industrial window units. At the same time it invested in technology to ensure customers received the same high quality products they had become used to. And this is where it gets really interesting. Marshall-Tufflex has worked closely with VEKA Recycling, which provides the recycled PVC-U, to ensure it is of the highest quality possible. The result is a raw material that is a more robust grade than a trunking or conduit virgin grade PVC-U. And, because it is window grade material, it has a greater molecular strength and is UV stabilised ensuring a colour-fast lifetime.

The quality of the recycled PVC-U is closely monitored to maintain the high standards expected. Batch testing is carried out by both companies, along with other test regimes to ensure the pu-rity and quality of the recycled material. Once in the Marshall-Tufflex manufacturing plant in Hastings, East Sussex, the recycled plastic is blended with virgin material to achieve the correct gloss finish for each cable management product. This in itself is a very specialised technique and has been optimised through many years of experience.

Driving demand

Marshall-Tufflex was undoubtedly ahead of the game, pioneering and perfecting the use of re-cycled plastics for its market-leading product range. The increasing focus on recycling ratifies its decision to tackle plastics wastage and the use of precious raw materials some 20 years ago when the issue was less fashionable.

Now the move provides a win-win situation for its customers, as Paul explains: “Architects can specify, and contractors install, PVC-U trunking without compromising on quality while at the same time working towards environmental and recycling targets. Contractors can ‘go green’ and still use a system that they are familiar with, that is manufactured and supplied by a tried and trusted industry name and that doesn’t cost any more. Nothing has changed in that re-spect. That Marshall-Tufflex manufactures in Britain, reducing road miles from factory to site, is an added bonus.”