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Sustainable repairs prevent landfill waste

Sustainable repairs prevent landfill waste

Thanks to our repair rather than replace ethos, here at Plastic Surgeon, we have been named as finalists in this year’s National Recycling Awards, in the category of Materials Recycler of the Year.

The company and its highly trained Finishers are no strangers to the awards circuit, but it is our contribution to sustainability issues which we are most proud of. For while the speed or cost of repair is often the attraction for our clients, our service is also the green option in most instances.

Our VisibilITy software not only enables customers to view the weight and value of the products we are saving or repairing for them, but also offers the information to help reduce damage in the future. On average our service saves £3 on the purchase cost of replacement items for every pound we invoice, but once the additional labour costs involved in replacing a damaged item, along with the inevitable disruption on site, have been factored in, the choice of repair over replacement is generally a no-brainer.

It is interesting to note, that according to the waste hierarchy, recycling is third on the list of priorities. The top priority is to eliminate waste, by not creating it in the first place. This can be achieved by ‘prevention:’ that is, using less materials in the design and manufacture of products, by using less hazardous substances and then keeping that finished product for as long as possible, before re-use.

Our VisibilITy reporting system helps to eliminate waste, by identifying and controlling the causes. By showing customers which items are most commonly damaged, which sites require the most repairs and where the most damage is occurring.

Described in the hierarchy as ‘preparing for re-use,’ the second priority is probably where we help most – economically and environmentally – through our repair techniques. This stage, the hierarchy defines as checking, cleaning, repairing and maintenance, for whole items and spare parts.

The third stage in the hierarchy, ‘Recycling,’ is generally accepted as meaning turning waste into a new substance or product. For example, the construction industry recycles damaged bricks and blocks into aggregates or sub-base for roads. This stage on the hierarchical list can also include composting, as long as quality protocols are met.

‘Other recovery’ methods include anaerobic digestion, incineration with energy recovery; and gasification and pyrolysis to produce energy as fuel for heat and power.

At the bottom of the waste hierarchy is, not surprisingly, landfill and incineration without energy recovery – something we always strive to avoid. At Plastic Surgeon, our strapline of “don’t skip it – fix it!” has been at the core of our philosophy for nearly a quarter of a century, well before repair/recycling became fashionable.

Repairing cracks, dents, chips and scratches in kitchen worktops, units, tiling and sanitaryware, as well as doors, windows, cills and stone, brick, uPVC and composite materials, extends the working life of common components and therefore reduces whole life cost.

Meanwhile, our VisibilITy software has helped our customers achieve their targets for waste reduction, and provides data for reporting on Corporate Social Responsibility: for companies who have signed up to the ‘Halving Waste to Landfill’ commitment,

Plastic Surgeon’s VisibilITy system can show customers how many tonnes of waste they have saved from going in a skip on every project. Indeed, in 2011, we undertook nearly 280,000 repairs, saving 2,253 tonnes of waste going to landfill. Hopefully these facts will help us secure the recycling award.