GreenEcoNet

Connecting SMEs for a green economy

Gain a competitive advantage in the green economy with Green Gain support

Roberto RINALDI's picture

We help organisations to respond to changing markets and increasing resource prices through a range of strategic and practical approaches – from resource efficiency savings through to new business models and new enterprises.

Intro

Green Grain helped GB Cullet, a well-established flat glass recycler based in Barnsley, to diversify to invest in a process for extracting value from the laminate layer present in car windscreens and shop windows

This plastic laminate material is called polyvinyl butyral (PVB) polymer and has a high commercial value if it can be recycled. A large proportion of glass from the layer can be physically removed. However, the PVB retains glass particles that are hard to separate, leaving a mix of PVB and glass that has to be landfilled. Green Gain provided one-to-one support to help GB Cullet to develop a new recycling process for this material.

There are very few processes globally that have successfully separated PVB from the glass in windscreens to a high quality standard. GB Cullet wanted to act to secure the future sustainability of the business by avoiding the rising costs of landfilling the PVB-glass mix and by exploiting the high potential value of the PVB to diversify the income streams of the business. The ability to offer PVB recycling is also an additional service benefit to its customer base.

Description of the solution

Green Gain provided support to GB Cullet in a range of areas to help them to develop and take forward their new recycling process. We supported the business to access £50,000 of grant funding to source processing equipment, helping them put together a project business plan to access this finance. Green Gain provided technical advice on configuring the processing line for recycling PVB. We also provided assistance to conduct product quality testing and to identify potential end markets for the recycled PVB and glass materials both in the UK and overseas.

Effects/Results

In terms of the benefits this support brought, GB Cullet managed to access £50,000 of capital grant funding for investment from CO2Sense to invest in new equipment thanks to Green Gain’s support. GB Cullet subsequently invested £71,000 of its own money into the processing line and building adaptation. The support in establishing the new recycling line resulted in the creation of 2 new jobs and an increased annual turnover of £60,000. The assistance in accessing free lab testing and analysis of the material allowed GB Cullet to market its processed material to customers much more effectively by proving the quality. The support in finding new higher value markets has helped GB Cullet to increase profit margins on the sale of material. The CO2 savings from the new process of diverting PVB from landfill into manufacturing are over 800 tonnes per annum. So the business is now offering more environmentally friendly options to its customers. The new processing line has also helped GB Cullet to diversify, and grow the business into new markets. 

 

Enablers and cooperation

During this process, Green Gain worked with a range of stakeholders. We engaged an organisation called CO2Sense in order to access the grant funding. We worked with a technical body called Nanofactory to secure quality testing of the sample PVB from process trials. We worked directly with end market users and manufacturers of the recycled PVB.

Barriers/challenges and Lessons learnt

Key barriers related to the ensuring consistency of the material if exported overseas. The PVB is very sensitive to environmental changes and care has to be taken with the way this is stored if exported for the manufacture of goods in the Far East. We therefore had to work to find ways to maintain the quality of the material in transit as well as exploring alternative markets closer to home. Quality testing was a significant confidence builder for UK end markets seeking assurances about the viability of using recycled PVB in manufacturing applications. 

There are very few processes globally that have successfully separated PVB from the glass in windscreens to a high quality standard. GB Cullet wanted to act to secure the future sustainability of the business by avoiding the rising costs of landfilling the PVB-glass mix and by exploiting the high potential value of the PVB to diversify the income streams of the business. The ability to offer PVB recycling is also an additional service benefit to its customer base.

 

Description of the solution

Green Gain provided support to GB Cullet in a range of areas to help them to develop and take forward their new recycling process. We supported the business to access £50,000 of grant funding to source processing equipment, helping them put together a project business plan to access this finance. Green Gain provided technical advice on configuring the processing line for recycling PVB. We also provided assistance to conduct product quality testing and to identify potential end markets for the recycled PVB and glass materials both in the UK and overseas.

 

Effects/Results

In terms of the benefits this support brought, GB Cullet managed to access £50,000 of capital grant funding for investment from CO2Sense to invest in new equipment thanks to Green Gain’s support. GB Cullet subsequently invested £71,000 of its own money into the processing line and building adaptation. The support in establishing the new recycling line resulted in the creation of 2 new jobs and an increased annual turnover of £60,000. The assistance in accessing free lab testing and analysis of the material allowed GB Cullet to market its processed material to customers much more effectively by proving the quality. The support in finding new higher value markets has helped GB Cullet to increase profit margins on the sale of material. The CO2 savings from the new process of diverting PVB from landfill into manufacturing are over 800 tonnes per annum. So the business is now offering more environmentally friendly options to its customers. The new processing line has also helped GB Cullet to diversify, and grow the business into new markets. 

 

Enablers and cooperation

During this process, Green Gain worked with a range of stakeholders. We engaged an organisation called CO2Sense in order to access the grant funding. We worked with a technical body called Nanofactory to secure quality testing of the sample PVB from process trials. We worked directly with end market users and manufacturers of the recycled PVB.

Barriers/challenges and Lessons learnt

Key barriers related to the ensuring consistency of the material if exported overseas. The PVB is very sensitive to environmental changes and care has to be taken with the way this is stored if exported for the manufacture of goods in the Far East. We therefore had to work to find ways to maintain the quality of the material in transit as well as exploring alternative markets closer to home. Quality testing was a significant confidence builder for UK end markets seeking assurances about the viability of using recycled PVB in manufacturing applications. 

Further details

How was the green solution financed?: 
Capital costs description: 
Investment of 120,000.00 £ (about 170,000.00 €)
Would you characterize the green solution as: 
High capital intensive investment (i.e. above €30,000)
Cost savings description: 
£120,000 investment, with an increase in turnover of £60,000 a year and reduced landfill costs. Payback after running costs is around 3 years
Operating and maintenance costs: 
Yes, high O&M costs
Emission reductions description: 
Defra’s CO2 conversion factors (2012) for average plastics state that the net benefit of recycling versus landfill is: -1.215 CO2 per tonne of PVB diverted from landfill. Based on tonnages processed the overall CO2 saving annually is 800 tonnes per annum
Material consumption savings description: 
Around 660 tonnes of PVB/glass laminate to landfill avoided each year and diverted into recycling.
Technical and capacity requirements?: 

The solution was very much bespoke for this specific type of business (i.e. a recycler of glass windscreens). However the principles of process design, support to establish end markets and material testing could be applied across recycling sector businesses
In this instance, the solution required in-house team member(s) with expertise in process technology required for glass and plastic recycling.

Regulatory framework prerequisites and constraints?: 

The process required planning consents on change of use and environmental permits for the recycling activity on onsite storage of materials/waste.