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Carbon equals cash: the value of low carbon polymers

Recycled plastic
Using 100% recycled polymers in automotive applications would give massive savings in carbon emission
Axion Polymers has achieved its Climate Change Agreement (CCA) target; firmly underlining its commitment to energy-efficient production of sustainable low carbon polymer products derived from end-of-life vehicles and waste e lectrical and electronic equipment.

Two years ago, the Manchester-based plastics recycler was one of the first companies in its sector to sign up to the Government’s current Climate Change Agreement, administered by the Environment Agency. Achieving its CCA target has earned Axion a credit of 1,803 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is banked on the EA register. This credit or ‘surplus’ can then be used in future target periods to offset any underachievement.

The current CCA scheme started in April 2013 and will run until 31 March 2023. CCA agreements are voluntary agreements to encourage energy intensive businesses to sign up to energy efficiency targets in return for reductions of up to 90% in the climate change levy on energy bills.

Axion Polymers high-quality 100% recycled Axpoly® plastics, extracted and further refined at its Shredder Waste Advanced Processing Plant (SWAPP) and Salford facilities, offer significant carbon savings of between 50% and 75% when compared with virgin polymers.

Director Keith Freegard commented: “Reducing our energy costs and introducing more efficient processes creates savings for us that we can pass onto our customers and ensure that our output products are really competitive in a tough, price-sensitive market.

“Because we’re in control of the whole value stream from car to finished product, the very act of trying to make our recycled polymers extremely low-impact from an environmental viewpoint also reduces production costs. It’s a winning combination all round that proves carbon does equal cash!”

In order to accurately measure the benefit of the new process efficiencies, Axion Polymers carried out a detailed ELV plastic Carbon Footprint Analysis to take account of the whole ELV materials recovery loop from the ATF de-pollution stage, through the primary shredding and SWAPP separation plants and during the final refining at Salford to make finished polymer products.

The study showed that by specifying 100% recycled polymers for all the plastic components on a new family compact car, a potential carbon saving of around 400kg CO2 equivalent per vehicle could be achieved when compared to using 100% virgin polymers.

Axion based its calculation on a typical modern hatchback 5-door motor car, weighing 1.25 tonnes and containing approximately 235kgs of polymer, with an average split of 40% polypropylene (PP), 30% polystyrene (PS) and 30% ABS.

Keith added: “Multiply this figure by the 1.5 million or so new vehicles manufactured each year in the UK, and there’s a massive potential for savings in carbon emissions and costs in the automotive sector alone.”

Axion Polymers is part of the Axion Group that develops and operates innovative resource recovery and processing solutions for recycling waste materials. The Group works with a wide range of clients within the recycling and process industries on the practical development of new processing and collection methods.

For more information, visit Axion's website.

May 2015

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