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UK leader

Eurocell Recycle, is the largest UK-based recycler of PVC-U window and door profiles (by tonnes processed).

Accreditation

We are a member of VinylPlus, Recovinyl, British Plastics Federation (BPF) and Operation Clean Sweep - an industry-wide voluntary commitment to develop more ecologically responsible ways to produce, use and recycle PVC.

Our footprint

Since 2014, we have reduced total emissions by c.38%, along with a steady downward trend in emission intensity,  as consumption has dropped through energy efficiency programmes whilst revenues have generally been increasing (source: Eurocell Greenhouse Gas Report, Inenco Group, February 2021).

Recognition

We have been proud winners of:

  • the Future Manufacturing Awards - Sustainability 2018;
  • the MRW Recycling Awards - Manufacturer of the Year 2018 and, more recently; and
  • the National Fenestration Awards 2020 — Recycling Company of  the Year.

Minimising our environmental impact

We are committed to protecting and minimising our impact on the environment.plus

Our policy is as follows:

  • We recognise that our operations result in emissions and waste and we are committed to control, recover and reuse PVC waste wherever possible. We operate in compliance with all relevant environmental legislation and we strive to use pollution prevention and environmental best practice in all that we do. The company experienced no reportable environmental incidents during 2020.
  • We promote the efficient use of all materials and resources throughout our facilities, particularly non-renewable resources, and continue our development of sustainably sourced products using recycled materials wherever possible.
  • Environmental concerns and impacts are a consideration in all of our decision making and activities. We promote environmental awareness amongst our employees and encourage them to work in an environmentally responsible manner. This is achieved through training and education, informing our employees about environmental issues that may affect their work.
  • Emergency response procedures are maintained where required by legislation or where significant health, safety or environmental hazards exist.
  • Our general environmental objectives are set in alignment with legislation and are continually reviewed to ensure they are being met. Our environmental policies apply to all our operations and we make sure sufficient resources are made available to ensure that they are implemented. We strive to continually improve our environmental performance and review our policies regularly in the light of planned future activities.

In the following paragraphs we have described the key aspects of our environmental performance, including the recycling operation and greenhouse gas emission reduction.

Greenhouse Gas Emissionsplus

We report our greenhouse gas (‘GHG’) emissions as part of our Strategic Report and our GHG reporting period is 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020, with comparatives for the corresponding period in the previous year. Reliable reporting of GHG emissions on a calendar year basis is not possible due to difficulties in collating actual data for the final months of the year due to timing lags on supplier invoicing.

GHG emissions for the Group for the period ending 30 September 2020 in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) is as follows:

Source 2020 2019 Change
Fuel Combustion (stationary) 274 335 (18)%
Fuel Combustion (mobile) 6,325 7,910 (20)%
Facility operation 104 91 14%
Purchased electricity 11,441 16,061 (29)%
Total 18,144 24,397 (26)%

Total emissions decreased by 26% compared to the corresponding 2019 period. Although sales for the 2020 calendar year were down 8%, primarily as a result of impact of the first COVID-19-related lockdown, emissions from purchased electricity fell by 29%. This includes the impact of a significant reduction in emission intensity of 20% from UK grid electricity (see table below). Although there was a 14% increase in the emissions from the operation of facilities, in our case the fugitive emissions from the operation of refrigeration equipment, these accounted for less than 1% of the Group’s total emissions.

Annual comparison and emissions intensity:

tCO2e 2020 2019 Change
Total emissions 18,144 24,397 (26)%
Emission intensity1 70 87 (20)%

1 Expressed in tCO2e per £m revenue.

This information was collected, calculated and reported in line with the methodology set out in  the UK Government’s Environmental Reporting Guidelines, 2019 (PB 13944). Emissions have  been calculated using the 2020 conversion factors provided by Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Electricity consumption (66% of 2020 emissions)plus

We continue to encourage behavioural changes to reduce consumption levels, to be less wasteful and drive operational efficiencies, including reducing idle time and optimising temperatures on extrusion lines and chillers. We will also investigate LED lighting  in 2021. 

Investing in recycling

Recycling sits at the very heart of our operations and we are proud to be the leading recycler of PVC windows in the UK.

"Our well-developed channels for recovery and recycling allow old frames to be recycled and reprocessed into new products up to  ten times without any loss  of quality.”

What we doplus

We recycle both customer factory offcuts (‘post-industrial’ waste) and old windows that have been replaced with new (‘post-consumer’ waste) to produce recycled material in the form of pellets, micronised and granulate material which are then used to generate brand new extruded products.

We have two recycling plants, which are located in Ilkeston (Eurocell Recycle Midlands) and Selby (Eurocell Recycle North).

Both sites operate under IPPC permit conditions and both successfully retained their permitted status. The environmental management systems and manuals forming the basis of our ISO14001 accreditations continue to evolve, with particular progress being made at Eurocell Recycle North. All accreditations were successfully maintained in 2020.

How much we recycleplus

The first half of 2020 was dominated by the impact of the first lockdown, with both recycling sites temporarily closed from late March until early June (Eurocell Recycling Midlands) and early July (Eurocell Recycling North).

Nevertheless, during the year our two sites recycled 27.0k tonnes (equivalent to c.3 million frames) of post-consumer waste, which would have otherwise been sent to landfill, and 6.7k tonnes of post-industrial waste. Together the two sites used this waste to produce 21.1k tonnes of recycled material.

Of the recycled material produced, 12.4k tonnes (generated predominately from post-consumer waste) was used alongside virgin resin in the manufacture of many of our PVC rigid profiles, representing c.25% of total raw material consumption.

The remaining 8.7k tonnes of recycled material produced is used either in products which are manufactured from 100% recycled material, including thermal inserts and cavity closer systems (which are almost exclusively derived from post-industrial waste), or sold to a range of trade extruders.

We were pleased to see that the average yield in our recycling plants improved from 60% in 2019 to 63% in 2020, reflecting the benefit of our recent investments. In addition, we have learned to use more of the coloured products and smaller particle sizes, resulting in a reduction in waste sent to landfill.

k tonnes 2020 2019 Change Change %
Inputs - waste recycled        
Post-consumer 27.0 31.4 (4.4) (14)%
Post-industrial 6.7 9.9 (3.2) (32)%
  33.7 41.3 (7.6) (18)%
Output - recycled material produced 21.1 24.9 (3.8) (15)%
Yield % 63% 60% 3% 5%
Usage
Primary extrusion
12.4 13.4 (1.0) (7)%
Products made from 100% recycled material 4.3 6.7 (2.4) (36)%
Sales to trade extruders 3.4 5.1 (1.7) (34)%
  20.1 25.2 (5.1) (20)%
Primary extrusion usage as % of total consumption 25% 23%    

How much we investplus

Between 2016 and 2020, we invested c.£6 million to expand our Eurocell Recycle Midlands site, to increase output and improve reliability, including new co-extrusion and other tooling to support the increased usage of recyclate on key product lines.

We acquired Eurocell Recycle North in August 2018 for a consideration of £6 million (including debt assumed). As expected, investment was required to improve the operating environment and reliability of the plant, to eliminate bottlenecks from production processes and to expand capacity. Total investment post-acquisition is c.£4 million.

As a result of these investments, our use of recycled material in primary extrusion increased from 4.1k tonnes in 2015 (or 9% of materials consumed) to 13.4k tonnes in 2019 (23% of consumption) and 12.4k tonnes in 2020 (or 25% of consumption), with volumes in the latter reduced by the impact of COVID. Our total output of recycled material, including that used in products made from 100% recycled material or sold to trade extruders, increased from 11.6k tonnes in 2016 to 21.1k tonnes in 2020.

As well as driving a substantial cost saving, as described in Strategy in Action on pages 28 and 29, we estimate that our recycling operation saved approximately 36k tonnes of carbon in 2020 (2019: 42k tonnes), compared to the use of virgin PVC.

How we recycle

Our Eurocell Recycle 9-step factory process:

Extrude finished products

The loop is closed as we manufacture the PVC-U into new products, frequently to higher specification than those being recycled. Such ‘upcycling’ is key to being a sustainable part of the Circular Economy.

Bulk transportation

A proportion of the recycled material is used onsite, whilst the rest is transported in tankers to our main extrusion facility, minimising our carbon footprint.

Pelletisation / Pulverisation

The PVC-U granules are processed into finished material ready for extrusion.

Washing

Using a series of water tanks, contaminants are ‘floated’ out.

Colour sorting

An advanced process utilising high speed cameras, ultra-violet light and jets of air filters out the granules of rubber leaving only clean, colour sorted PVC-U. 

Granulation

The waste is granulated into uniform size. At this stage rubber gaskets are still present.

Separation

Using magnetic processes, metals are separated from the rest of the waste and recycled separately.

Shredding

Waste is shredded into processable pieces.

Waste collection

Waste is taken from  3 sources:

  • Post-consumer windows
  • Fabricator off-cuts
  • Bar length

Benefits of Eurocell recycling

Sustainabilityplus

The use of recycled material enhances product stability and lowers significantly the carbon footprint of our manufactured products.

Reducing waste to landfillplus

By recycling old windows (‘post-consumer’) we reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

Protecting our marginplus

The use of recycled material in the manufacture of PVC rigid products provides a substantial saving in cost compared to virgin resin compound. We also aim to increase our use of recycled material in order to maintain gross margin as our sales grow.

Mitigating pricing pressuresplus

Increasing the use of recycled material in our manufactured products helps to mitigate raw material price increases and to reduce our exposure to volatile commodity prices. 

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