Manufacturer slashes carbon footprint by 78% but highlights increasing cost of using renewable energy

roofBritish building products manufacturer, Hambleside Danelaw has achieved a massive reduction in its carbon footprint over the last six years, but says that the rising cost of using renewable energy is likely to make further cuts very difficult.

An independent environmental audit by the Planet Positive Foundation has found that Hambleside Danelaw, which makes glass reinforced polyester (GRP) roofing products at two factories in Daventry and Inverness, recorded a footprint of 264 tCO2e in 2010 – 78% lower than the corresponding figure for 2005 and 70% lower than five years ago.

Hambleside Danelaw manufactures a range of rooflights, flashings and valleys from GRP as well as roof, wall and underfloor ventilation products. It has an annual production output of 2 million product units and when the footprint of 264 tCO2e is apportioned over this output, the company’s embodied energy unit is just 0.132 kg per unit.

The new carbon footprint is at a level that is comparable to that of only 45 average UK households.

Hambleside Danelaw is naturally pleased that it has easily exceeded the 5% annual target for reducing emissions which qualifies it for the renewal of Planet Positive certification. However, the company warns that there are major challenges for manufacturers to overcome if they want to make more progress in cutting their footprint.

Cost of renewable energy is a major issue

The biggest challenge relates to the audit’s finding that the two factories’ energy consumption accounts for over half of the total carbon emissions. The Inverness factory already uses 100% renewably sourced electricity and liquefied petroleum gas and Hambleside Danelaw is now exploring using more renewable energy at its Daventry  facility.

Commenting on this, Ray Khan, the company’s director of quality and environmental standards, said:

“A major issue is that renewable energy now costs more than sourcing from non renewable suppliers. In fact there is a shortage of renewable energy in the UK with one reason being that the government’s CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme for large energy users to reduce their carbon footprint has resulted in these companies buying up more and more renewable energy and thereby driving up the price for all of us.

“With manufacturers burdened by increasing costs on all areas of their business, we simply can’t afford to choose a more expensive source of energy supply in the current economic climate.”

Travel emissions in taking waste to recycling plants

The second challenge for Hambleside Danelaw is that in Scotland, the company incurs travel emissions generated from waste transfer. The nearest recycling plant is 55km from Inverness. This contrasts with the situation in England where the Daventry factory is only 10km from its nearest recycling plant.

By recycling its waste, Hambleside Danelaw has been able to substantially reduce the amount of materials that it sends to landfill, reducing operating costs and enhancing products. Therefore it will retain its commitment to recycling on both sides of the border despite the waste transfer distance in Scotland.

Recycling GRP – the final frontier

RecyclingFinding ways of reducing waste production (both recyclable and non-recyclable) remains the third major challenge, especially when the waste is mostly fibreglass which is very  difficult to recycle.

Hambleside Danelaw has been recycling plastic waste for many years but GRP is a different material requiring a different solution. The company has made a substantial investment in developing plant and equipment to allow it to begin to get a material from waste GRP which is suitable for recycling. As a result the waste production material can now be reused within the industry and although development work is ongoing, good progress is being made.

This work now gives Hambleside the ability to recycle its GRP products, rooflights, cladding flashings and the Dryseal flat roofing system once they have come to the end of their service life, again reducing land fill waste and costs and considerably extending the life cycle of a fossil based material as it may now be re-used.

Chris Avery, managing director of Hambleside Danelaw Ltd, said:

“Manufacturers are increasing the amount of recycled material used within their products and in many cases this is becoming paramount to their specification. By investing in recycling technology, Hambleside Danelaw is ensuring that demand for its products will continue to grow, benefiting both the company and its customers.”