Primary and Secondary Micro Plastic Polution – Project Assessment Criteria

As manufacturers of recycled polymer products, environmental consultants often ask us whether we have carried out a detailed study on the risk our products may have in the creation of primary and secondary micro-plastic pollution. They refer to the risk over time during installation, in service, right through to end of life stage.

We understand that if we are to improve the way we construct then it is so important that we assess all environmental risk, however small, and will help any company that is looking to adopt this approach within design when choosing a product, system or method of construction. For a true assessment you need to establish the known and obvious facts/criteria and take a worst case estimate on the potential and variable risks at any stage. Then it is a question of measure, balancing risk and environmental effect across the whole product cycle.

As a manufacturer we are able to provide designers with the facts in terms of exact material content in each product. We can also confirm that pre-production and the production process itself is environmentally positive in terms of impact/risk, as you would expect, when manufacturing using recycled material in a returnable feed process.

During installation, simple measures can eradicate risk, such as collecting swarf from cuts which can then be disposed of as general recyclable polymer. In terms of the hydraulic function, units are non-hygroscopic and deliver flows without contamination, as is the case with polyethylene sewer pipe.

Abrasion/Impact from vehicles will potentially create a small risk however this would be project specific and something designers should make an assessment on. This is because factors such as traffic type-speed-volumes, road alignment and other design criteria can have a positive/negative effect.

To help you we can suggest a figure based on the feedback for wastage/damage across all sites for Durakerb of 0.5% x 2 as a worst/case safety factor. As a further safety factor you could also take this 1% as a percentage of the total volume/weight contained. Effective measures on the method of repair, replacement, re-use or recycling will reduce this risk but you must also balance this negative with the considerable positive effect in using Dura-products.

When you consider that 100% of all the recycled polymer contained within each unit, once delivered to site, and then used, has been effectively removed from risk elsewhere. Please see attached picture of our typical feedstock. There is still plenty of discarded polymer like this that goes into landfill, and dumping is and always has been the biggest factor in the creation of primary and secondary micro plastic pollution. Using a product with a high recycled content should always present a positive effect for the environment. Re-using again and again compounds the positive effects further.

Using Durakerb Hb2 as an example and as a worst case, assuming no preventative measures are taken across the life cycle of the product you could safely assume in using Durakerb there is a potential to create a pollution risk of 1% x Weight/Volume, measured against a negated risk of 88% x Weight Volume. When you also consider the reduction in carbon/weight across the whole life cycle, if you are designing to the benefit of the environment, then it really is a no brainer.

The demand for recycled products is key, without that, the drive to effectively collect, control and re-use polymer will be lost. Also, thereafter, keeping recycled products and resources in continual use for as long as possible is the next challenge.

Steve Bennett – Managing Director – Dura products Ltd

steve.bennett@econpro.co.uk