Can sustainability be achieved within the Conveyor Industry
Sustainability holds immense importance for the conveyor industry for several key reasons:
- Environmental Impact: The conveyor belt industry relies heavily on raw materials such as rubber, plastics, and metals. Unsustainable practices, such as excessive resource consumption, can lead to a myriad of negative environmental impacts which includes: increased waste generation, depletion of natural resources, harmful by products, proliferation of terrestrial plastic debris and more.
- Energy Efficiency: Conveyor belts, pulleys, rollers are necessary in a successful conveyor system. All of which require vast amount of energy to produce, maintain and operate. For example, 300ft field conveyor carrying 800tn/hour could use up to 23,000KW a year.
- Waste Production: None of the components in a conveyor system last forever ergo waste is generated in the form of used and damaged components within the system. This waste can often be particularly difficult to recycle or repurpose without the correct processes, which can often be expensive. It is not uncommon for this waste to be subjected to landfill or even burnt.
- Life Cycle Assessment: It is paramount that with all components of a conveyor system, the lifetime of use is considered from the moment of raw material extraction to disposal. Without assessing the life cycle of such, we commit to excessive resource consumption and poor waste management.
- Consumer & Stakeholder Expectations: There are growing expectations amongst consumers and stakeholders to ensure that the business they deal with are committed to environmental sustainability. For example, a global survey by Nielsen in 2019 found that 73% of consumers were willing to change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact.
AB Conveyors commitment to sustainability
AB Conveyors is proud to uphold a strong commitment to sustainability in all aspects of our operations. Our dedication extends beyond compliance with regulations, as we continually seek opportunities for improvement and embrace sustainable practices that go above and beyond industry standards. Our operations manager, Rhys Barker, was the project leader for this initiative. Graduating in 2019 from the University of York with a masters degree in Environmental Geography, Rhys was determined to apply his knowledge and skills to the conveyor belt industry and has successfully pioneered a innovative resource recycling scheme within AB Conveyors. The focal point of this initiative was on rubber conveyor belt but has since expanded to steel and timber use within operations.
Below is an outline of how AB Conveyors has committed to improving its sustainability by scrutinising every area of the business practise to evaluate what can be done to mitigate environmental impact.
Sustainable Conveyor Belting
Second-hand conveyor belting is readily accepted at AB Conveyors, this can be sourced from large projects where the belt is no longer necessary such as decommissioned power plants e.g. Drax 2021, or even from smaller conveyors that are coming to end of life. Second-hand conveyor belt gives a new lease of life to conveyor belt that is perfectly fit for a wide variety of conveyor belt systems.
By extending the lifetime of the conveyor belt we can reduce resource consumption required to manufacture new conveyor belts. This mitigates significant resource and energy consumption associated with manufacturing new conveyor belts. Not only this, by reusing second-hand conveyor belts we delay the point of disposal which reduces waste generation.
Of course, no conveyor belt can last forever. Conveyor belts are hard wearing, versatile and incredible efficient, however, there is a point where wear and tear or damage may cause a belt to fail. AB Conveyors has committed to accepted damaged and worn belts into its stores to be repurposed. AB Conveyors is able to leverage the intrinsic qualities of conveyor belting into other applications outside of conveyor systems such as flooring, linings, mud guards, scrapers and much more.
Belt offcuts are a source of potential waste occurring from cutting wider belts to a certain width to meet customer specifications. AB Conveyors has fully committed to minimising wasting any conveyor belt since 2018. Apart of this commitment, we have been able to devise agreements with customers who are able to use belt offcuts. These offcuts can be repurposed as linings used within automobiles, housing and even on ships.
For sometime there was an abundance of smaller strips of conveyor belting that could not be repurposed, which would inevitably have to be disposed of. However, an opportunity was discovered for the use of shredded conveyor belt trimmings for the flooring of children’s playgrounds. With this breakthrough, wastage was reduced to an minimum at AB Conveyors and achievement that we are most proud of.
Steel – Conveyor Drums, Rollers & Frames
AB Conveyors fabricates many conveyor components in house. This requires local steel suppliers and stockists to provide the raw materials to produce such components. Unfortunately, due to the nature of steel and its widely used application within conveyor belt systems, there are scarce alternatives to maintain the exception standards of operation that steel delivers. However, AB Conveyors has continued to examine areas where this can be improved.
At AB Conveyors we provides maintenance and refurbishment services on all drums whether they are fabricated by us or OEM. This provides customers with a sustainable option to have their equipment repaired rather than sourced from new. Maintenance and refurbishment mean further resource consumption can be avoided and waste generation can be reduced. Although this is not always an option, it is the first consideration when a customer comes to us with an steel fabrication enquiry.
All of our steel wastage is recycled with local firms who periodically visit the AB Conveyors site to collect the masses of steel offcuts that are created during fabrication processes. This ensures the steel can be recycled efficiently with local businesses who can use recycled steel for a variety of purposes. Over the years this has saved significant amounts of energy from being used from the raw extraction of steel and has provided local businesses with necessary resources.
Day-to-day sustainability within the operation is imperative to upkeeping high environmental standards. This includes integrating sustainable practises and principles into the general running of the business. Key elements of our operational sustainability drive:
- Office Waste: Collaborating with Boughton Industrial Estate and Bassetlaw Council, we intend to house recycling points on site to deal with cardboard, aluminium and plastic waste. This practise helps divert recyclable materials from landfill while also promoting awareness of sustainable choices within our office culture.
- Supply Chain Management: Operational sustainability extends beyond our immediate operations and encompasses its supply chain. AB Conveyors strives to work with suppliers and partners who share their commitment to sustainable practices, ethical sourcing and social responsibility
- Pallet & Belt Centre Recycling / Repurposing: Many of our goods enter and leave our site on wooden pallets or supported with timber support centres. Due to the nature of handling such goods, damage is common to the timber structures which renders them unusable for transport. We endeavour to recycle damaged timber materials with wood stockists on our industrial estate. Other times we are able to cut the wood down to be used as safety support on other pallets and in some cases we offer them to employees to use on DIY projects.
- Social Responsibility Endeavours: We believe in hiring local talent, recognizing the value of supporting the local economy and creating employment opportunities for community members. Additionally, we provide training courses and continuous professional development (CPD) opportunities to our employees, enabling them to enhance their skills and advance their careers. By investing in their growth, we empower individuals to reach their full potential. Furthermore, we promote carpooling and encourage employees to share rides, reducing traffic congestion, carbon emissions, and individual transportation costs.
Recycling Statistics est. 2022
AB Conveyors is committed to a continuous journey of improvement in all aspects of our business to improve sustainability. We recognise the urgency and importance of addressing environmental and social challenges, and we are dedicated to driving positive change. Our approach involves implementing sustainable practices throughout our operations, from sourcing and manufacturing to transportation and waste management. We actively seek innovative solutions to minimise our environmental impact by reduce waste generation and optimising resource utilisation. Through our unwavering commitment to sustainability, we aim to inspire others, drive industry-wide transformation, and contribute to a more sustainable future for generations to come.