The road to sustainability for plastics manufacturing - Building NZ
The road to sustainability for plastics manufacturing

The road to sustainability for plastics manufacturing

A multi-faceted approach to its responsibilities as a manufacturer means Marley promotes the use of renewable energy, recycles its products, designs ranges that encourage sustainability, and works hard to reduce the amount of materials it consumes.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

The building and construction sector is one of the significant contributors to greenhouse gases, through the manufacture of materials, during the construction of buildings, and from the energy used once they are completed and operational.

Along with most of the world, the New Zealand government is actively planning ways to achieve its climate change goals, including net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Using renewable energy sources and recycling materials are both essential parts of this equation, and most industries are now looking at how they can improve their systems, technology and practices to become more sustainable.

Marley, one of New Zealand's largest plastics manufacturers, is an excellent example of an iconic local company that is actively working to improve its practices. Owned by Aliaxis group, a privately owned global business based in Belgium, Marley is strongly focused on achieving a number of ambitious sustainability goals.

Scott Townsend, general manager of marketing at Marley, says the company is committed to these goals and knows that the people that specify, install and use its products – architects, builders and homeowners to name just a few – increasingly are too.

“Aliaxis has a goal globally to reach 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025 to help reduce CO2 emissions by 75 per cent per tonne of production across its sites. As part of that goal, in New Zealand, we have joined Meridian Energy's Certified Renewable Energy programme. This means we support Meridian's sustainability commitment to only generate electricity from 100 per cent renewable sources – the wind, water and sun.

Manufacturing products sustainably by using renewable energy

“We hope by being part of this programme more businesses are encouraged to join, which will put pressure on other electricity producers and drive the demand for renewable energy. New Zealand's goal is to be using 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and we would love to see that happen even faster," says Scott.

At the same time, Marley is continually developing other innovative initiatives to reduce the company’s environmental footprint.

“We are always looking at developing new products that use less energy in their production or contribute in some way by having less environmental impact."

TWIST, a compact rainwater diverter, is a good example – it’s made from 100 per cent recyclable materials and is designed to help households reduce their overall use of mains water. It is easily connected to an existing downpipe system, diverting rainwater to a storage facility such as a tank or barrel for watering the garden, washing the car or running water features. Depending on the rainfall, TWIST® can capture up to 300 litres of water per hour and can be turned off to resume normal downpipe flow.

“We see this as a great way for homeowners in urban areas to easily utilise rainwater and, at the same time, reduce pressure on infrastructure,” says Scott.

Marley’s leaf and debris diverter, CURVE®, is also made from 100 per cent recyclable material; it’s a diverter that can be added onto downpipes to protect tanks and stormwater systems from leaves and debris. As well as improving the quality of water going into tanks, it also reduces the amount of debris entering the stormwater system and ultimately reduces problems of blocked and overflowing sewers.

Both Curve and Twist are available in the full colour range from the Marley Stratus Design Series® to ensure they blend seamlessly into the downpipe system.

Recycling as much production waste as possible is a key initiative that Marley takes very seriously, and the company recycles over 99 per cent of its own production waste, grinding, crushing and reusing products that don’t meet its stringent quality standards.

“We are increasingly taking products back from contractors and consumers to avoid them being sent to landfill, and we recycle them into new products.”

“This may mean when plumbers replace parts like stormwater pipe systems, we take back the old products and recycle them, or it could be off-cuts left over at the end of a job.”

Both Curve and Twist are available in the full colour range.

Working with the business community to encourage recycling

Partnering with other businesses and customers is part of the strategy to become more sustainable. Scott cites the example of its partnership with Mitre 10 and Naylor Love for a project at Onehunga High School.

"We provide recycling bins on-site for subcontractors to put PVC product waste into, and we collect the bins and take them back to our factory for recycling. We see the demand for these relationships increasing as the government takes steps to encourage and incentivise waste minimisation. Even now, it is becoming more expensive for construction companies to send waste to landfill."

“We have also run several trials with one of our key customers, Plumbing World, providing dedicated uPVC and PE recycling bins at their branches so that plumbers and drainlayers can return off-cuts or end-of-life product. The bins are regularly collected and product returned to Marley for recycling.

Another initiative is to accept uPVC and PE from other manufacturers that don’t have the recycling resources that Marley has invested in. This ranges from taking the off-cuts from a company that makes vinyl records to processing old milk bottles, and equates to around 250,000kg per year from external sources – all of which would otherwise have gone to landfill.

“Our aim is to try and create a circular economy for uPVC and PE. Both are fantastic materials for use in building and infrastructure products where durability and high performance are essential, and both are infinitely recyclable. If you can keep it in the circulation loop, you reduce the need for new material to be produced and reduce the embodied energy of future products and therefore buildings,” says Scott.

“We are also actively reviewing all our products to increase the recycled content where possible, or to reduce the amount of material in the product where we can do this without affecting its quality. Both these help to further reduce the amount of uPVC or PE that is needed.”

Marley's efforts in this area are recognised in the number of certifications it has earned. It was the first NZ plastics manufacturer in NZ to achieve ISO1401 environmental accreditation 16 years ago; its products are BEP-certified and certified for use on GreenStar projects.

Learn more about Marley’s sustainability goals and the products it produces.

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