News

Coronavirus update

In the current very challenging circumstances, we would like to share our best wishes with you and hope that you, your family and friends are safe and well.

As the Coronavirus lockdown continues and events unfold, we are regularly reviewing our operations. The health and safety of our colleagues, customers and suppliers remains our highest priority and we have reduced the numbers of people on site to ensure that social distancing can be achieved. We have a skeleton staff on our sites; some of our colleagues are now working remotely and some colleagues have been temporarily furloughed. Those that have been furloughed are being supported by the Government Coronavirus Retention Scheme.

We have organised our business to allow it to flex according to changes in requirements as they arise, while maintaining all the additional safety measures that we have put into place. We are continuously monitoring the UK Government, DEFRA and British Plastics Federation guidance and will adjust our operations as required.

We have staff available to respond to calls and emails. If you have sales enquiries, please call 0161 925 8768 or 07711 928115, or email sales@axionpolymers.com For other enquiries, including site operations, logistics, purchasing and accounts payable, please call 0161 737 6124 or 0161 426 7731, or email info@axiongroup.co.uk

Our Salford and Trafford Park sites are open Monday – Thursday 07:00 – 15:30  and Friday 07:00 – 15:00

Coronavirus statement

The health and safety of our staff and everyone that attends our sites is at the centre of everything we do.

As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread, we want to take this opportunity to reassure you that we have implemented measures to safeguard business continuity and to address any concerns that you may have.

Due to effective planning, we are well placed to continue supporting our customers with the  implementation of pragmatic measures, while also safeguarding the wellness of our employees and visitors to site.

We will continue to monitor official guidance and ensure robust controls are in place to be able to maintain continuity of our operations.

A working group of senior team members are meeting on a regular basis to ensure our operations are fully aligned to official COVID-19 guidelines and we can respond to changes as necessary.

Information on how to minimise and prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been communicated to all employees at all our sites, and strict hygiene regimes are in place.

This is a worldwide, unprecedented and challenging time for so many people and at Axion we will continue to implement the robust measures required to continue to safely operate our business.

Collaborate to create end markets for recycled polymers

Collaborate to produce end markets for recycled polymer

Collaboration between injection moulders and manufacturers, and plastic recyclers is key to creating new end markets for recycled polymers, meet rising demand for recycled content and improve the overall economics of recycling.

With more manufacturers, especially those in the automotive and electrical sectors, looking to increase recycled content in new goods, this presents opportunities for injection moulders to consider alternatives to virgin material.

At Axion’s two processing sites, plastics recovered from end-of-life vehicles (auto shredder waste) and waste electrical goods are refined into high-quality engineering polymers that match virgin material quality. Our bespoke recycled Axpoly® and Axplas® polymers can be tailored to suit clients’ specifications for use in a wide range of new products.

The economic feasibility of recycling depends upon stable end markets, that justify the cost of processing. Moulders who work with recyclers on understanding physical polymer properties, and crucially, engage in practical trials to understand the suitability of a recycled polymer in new applications can gain a competitive advantage in emerging circular economy markets.

Ambitious aims on the recycling of packaging, and a growing desire to recycle more non-packaging products including plastics from End of Life Vehicles and Waste Electronics and Electrical equipment are driving manufacturers to seek new solutions and incorporate more recycled content.

Fear over a proposed tax on packaging without recycled content being possibly extended to other markets is also cited as a driver for the desire to include recycled materials in new goods.

Some closed loop recycling exists, primarily in PET and HDPE packaging. Although closed loop recycling is not vital, if it can be achieved it allows for the same grade of polymer to be reused in the same application. This removes some of the technical barriers of using recycled content.

However, in many cases, closed loop cannot be achieved because products may be collected in a mixed stream, where separation of different polymer grades is not technically or economically possible. In this case, manufacturers need to consider using alternative polymer types or blends if they want to increase recycled content.

This brings a potential technical barrier.

In many cases, a moulded product is designed to use a specific grade of polymer with very specific properties. The company that produces the moulded product may not be involved in specifying the material, and so will be reluctant to use any polymer that does not conform to the exact original specification.

The potential technical barrier then becomes a “resistance” to use recycled content due to past perceptions about its ability to meet virgin material specifications and perceptions about the quality of recycled materials. In many cases however, products do not need such rigid specifications, and in reality, a wide range of different grades of a polymer or even different blends of polymers may work well in certain applications.

Blending PE and PP from plastic film to use in injection moulding of “PP” products is a prime example of what can work successfully. Products such as crates, bins and buckets can even benefit from a PE/PP blend as the properties can complement each other.

Axion Polymers Business Development Manager Mark Keenan points out that although physical properties of recycled polymers are important to measure, conducting trials using the material provides a more detailed picture.

He says: “Moulders should work with recyclers to ensure that the recycled polymer is as suitable as possible for an application. At Axion Polymers, we work with our customers to get recycled content into their products or help them use a different polymer formulation altogether.”

“We assist moulders at every step, right through to setting up their machinery to enable them to use alternative recycled polymers. Practical trials are the only way to truly understand the suitability of a recycled polymer.”

Mark concludes: “With the desire to recycle more and more materials, end markets need to be continuously developed. Full supply chain collaboration can ensure there are stable end markets and provide the “pull” effect to boost the overall economics of recycling.”

RecoMed PVC takeback scheme launches new website

RecoMed, the PVC takeback scheme for single-use medical devices, has launched its new website – www.recomed.co.uk – in response to rising interest from the healthcare sector in reducing and recycling plastic waste.

Set up in 2014, RecoMed provides an alternative, sustainable disposal route for waste medical items, such as oxygen masks and tubing, made from high-quality medical grade PVC. The new website contains all the information potential participants need, including how RecoMed works, case studies and latest news, which is also shared on Twitter via @RecoMedUK.

Currently 37 NHS and private hospitals are actively participating in the scheme across the UK – from Plymouth to Newcastle – with more set to join in the coming months. Run by Axion in partnership with the British Plastics Federation (BPF), RecoMed is funded by VinylPlus®, the voluntary sustainable development programme of the European PVC industry.

The first scheme of its kind in Europe, RecoMed coordinates every step in the recycling journey – from providing PVC collection bins in hospitals to delivering the shredded plastic to specialist recyclers where it is turned into horticultural products, such as tree-ties.

To date nearly 22.5 tonnes of PVC has been recycled – the equivalent of about 747,000 oxygen masks. The majority of this total, more than nine tonnes, was collected and recycled in 2019 alone.

Mick Claes, Senior Consultant at Axion and project leader for RecoMed says the new website is very timely, given the current ‘huge swell of public interest’ behind reducing plastic waste.

Welcoming the new website, he comments: “The scheme is growing, and we are seeing keen interest from healthcare professionals who are very aware of plastic waste generated through their procedures, such as anaesthetics for example.

“That’s why we have provided more detail on what RecoMed can accept, the benefits to participants and how to make the scheme a success in your hospital. People are used to recycling at home and they want to do this at work too.”

Around 8 million UK hospital procedures each year result in the disposal of single-use PVC masks and similar devices that could safely be recycled. These devices are currently sent to landfill or incineration, wasting resources and costing the NHS substantial sums in waste management.

Outlining future plans for RecoMed, Mick says partnerships with other healthcare sector stakeholders are being discussed to facilitate the rollout to more hospitals. He adds: “We are also looking to partner with other PVC product manufacturers and find new ‘circular’ applications for the recycled material. Our goal is simple: to increase medical PVC device recycling rates.”

Recovinyl: UK is top contributor to PVC recycling scheme

The UK is second in Europe (behind Germany) in collecting and recycling waste PVC with a total of 137,989 tonnes recycled here in 2018 across all PVC recycling formats. Of this total, PVC window profiles accounted for 73,703 tonnes, according to latest industry figures.

The UK’s sizeable effort represents around 19% of the 739,525 tonnes of waste PVC recycled throughout Europe in 2018 – a new record high. Across Europe, window profiles and related building products accounted for 44% of the total PVC recycled.

Recovinyl®, the PVC industry’s recycling scheme, was the largest contributor to this total and registered a total of 734,568 tonnes of PVC waste entirely recycled in Europe in 2018 – a 15.6% increase from 2017. In Europe, the demand for recycled rigid PVC is currently very high, indicating the potential for further strengthening collection and recycling schemes.

Two new UK Recovinyl recyclers

Recovinyl has further sharpened its certification and audit schemes to ensure maximum reliability of collected data and of recyclates traceability, both from recyclers and converters. Over the last 12 months, two new recyclers who focus on rigid PVC have joined the UK Recovinyl network – Tecvyn in Hull and Recycling PVC in Manchester, making a total of 24 accredited recyclers across the country. While across Europe, 11 new recyclers have signed up in the first half of 2019.

Axion is Recovinyl’s Regional Representative for the UK. Welcoming the ongoing upwards PVC recycling trend, Richard McKinlay, Axion’s Head of Consulting says: “Recovinyl is a great success story and there’s still a huge demand for recycled PVC. Much of what is being collected is post-consumer material and we’re doing a really good job in the UK, but we’d like to collect and recycle even more to meet the demand. That’s why it’s important to recycle these frames, for all the right reasons.”

Optimisation in cutting technology has resulted in fewer and smaller post-industrial off-cuts for recycling, as Richard notes: “Fabricators have become more efficient at cutting profiles and getting more frames out of their bar lengths. As people get better at reusing offcuts or minimising off-cut material, it’s become even more important to capture more post-consumer material for recycling.”

PVC recycling can ‘lead the way’

Hinting that construction is the next sector after packaging to come under scrutiny in terms of waste, Richard says PVC’s now-established recycling infrastructure can ‘lead the way’ in setting an example for the treatment of other waste construction materials.

For fabricators and installers, recycling PVC makes ‘economic and environmental sense’ says Richard: “The PVC recyclers will pay for good quality material, so there’s an economic incentive for fitters and with a recycling network across the UK, there’s an outlet; no need to throw it in a skip. Everyone can do their bit to protect the environment and even the smallest installation company should look at how they can recycle and who their nearest recycler is.”

Segregating PVC frames and off-cuts is important, adds Richard, as this helps to maintain quality and the market value of the material.

Simon Scholes, Managing Director of VEKA Recycling Ltd, one of the first Recovinyl recyclers in the UK, observes that window companies, particularly larger fabricators, are generating less PVC waste. “Less production waste is a positive thing,” he says. “As the industry has become more professional, it is getting better at collecting waste PVC and sending less to landfill. That’s helping to bring sustainability to the industry as a whole.”

Simon adds: “The material is out there, and we can help companies of all sizes to recycle their waste PVC frames and off-cuts. People are catching onto recycling and attitudes towards this are improving. We’re going in the right direction!”

PVC can be recycled multiple times without any loss of performance and reused in many diverse new and long-life products from construction products such as windows to flooring and electrical components.

Cumulatively, almost 5 million tonnes of PVC have been recycled within the Vinyl 2010 and VinylPlus frameworks across Europe since 2000, with around 10 million tonnes of CO2 saved. Check out your nearest Recovinyl recycler at https://recovinyl.com/all-recyclers.

Axion Polymers successfully renews ISO 9001 certification

Axion Polymers has successfully renewed its ISO management system certification at both its Manchester plastics recycling sites – and gained a new ISO18001 Health and Safety standard for the Salford facility.

Following an audit conducted by LRQA, Axion Polymers has been recertified for its ISO 9001 quality management systems at its Salford and Trafford Park sites. Based on seven quality principles, ISO 9001 certification covers all aspects of the plants’ operations, from manufacture to supply and customer service.

Axion’s Commercial Operations Manager Laura Smith comments: “We’re proud to have achieved renewal of our Lloyds Register ISO 9001 quality standards accreditation and this is testimony to the rigorous quality management procedures we have in place.

“Our customers can be assured that all Axpoly® and Axplas® products are manufactured according to the highest quality standards. Quality runs through everything we do.”

While the Trafford Park site has been recertified for OHSAS 18001, the Health and Safety management systems standard, it’s the first time that Salford facility has achieved this certification. OHSAS 18001 demonstrates a strict compliance with Health and Safety procedures.

Praising the team’s efforts, Axion’s General Manager Judith Clayman says: “Achieving this standard at both sites is a key goal for our company. The Health and Safety of our employees, subcontractors and visitors is our highest priority from their first footstep on site and subsequently throughout our entire operation.

“I am delighted that the whole team’s hard work has been rewarded with the certification. It demonstrates that robust implementation of policies, procedures and controls is in place to achieve excellent working conditions and workplace health and safety across the whole business. We will now be focussing our efforts on achieving ISO 45001, the new enhanced Health and Safety standard.”

Judith adds that Axion’s next step is to work towards achieving the environmental management standard ISO 14001 for both sites.

Axion welcomes ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme proposal

Proposals for an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers are a positive move to encourage people to recycle more and associate a value with waste plastic and other materials.

Including cans and bottles made from plastics, aluminium, steel and glass would also help to increase capture of ‘recycling on the go’ materials.

Axion’s Head of Consulting, Richard McKinlay welcomes the ‘all-in’ approach because it removes the incentive for brands to offer discounted alternatives not included in the DRS scheme, such as water in cans instead of bottles. The alternatives, he says ‘may be more environmentally impactful’.

Commenting on Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s hints on the likely contents of the government’s Environment Bill due later this year, Richard continues: “I think a deposit return scheme is needed; especially from a quality point of view to ensure we’ve got a high-quality food grade PET stream that allows recycling back into the highest quality applications.”

“More and more brands and retailers are facing targets of including higher recycled content in packaging, yet currently we haven’t got the quantity or quality of the material to achieve that.”

Concerns have been raised that implementing a DRS will impact on existing kerbside collections as people will be encouraged to separate bottles from their household recycling to return them and claim their deposit back. Fewer numbers of polyethylene (PET) bottles in household collections would leave local authorities with the lower quality PET trays. With fewer PET bottles in the waste stream, the ones that are still there may be harder to sort and extract.

Consequently, more MRF infrastructure will be required to re-sort the waste stream for PET bottles. Investment in the recycling infrastructure will also be needed to handle the remaining PET pots, tubs and trays.

On the plus side, Richard says the DRS will deliver better quality bottles for recycling. “It will be possible to recycle more bottles into bottles, and potentially, trays into trays, increasing the amount of food grade rPET on the market. However, investment in the processing infrastructure will be necessary for that to work.”

Although the ‘all-in’ system will have many positives and will work towards creating a level playing field, there are issues that will need to be resolved. The inclusion of beverage cartons in the DRS should be considered, to remove the incentive for brands to switch to using them as an alternative. There will be hygiene issues with certain foodstuffs such as dairy so it may be prudent to exclude fresh milk packaged in natural HDPE.

Highlighting the need for wider reform, Richard concludes: “This initiative shouldn’t be seen as removing value from local authorities. Although there may be some impact, the bigger picture is that more material overall will be recycled back into high quality products. DRS should be implemented as part of a broader reform of how we manage and recycle packaging waste, which should include Extended Producer Responsibility to remove the cost burden from Local Authorities.

“We should not be afraid to move away from the existing waste management infrastructure which is inherently unable to deliver on the Circular Economy.”

Investment boosts recycling capacity for Axion Polymers

Further investment in Axion Polymers’ plastics recycling facility has increased waste processing capacity, as well as extrusion capability of its 100% recycled polymer grades. It is the first phase of continuing investment in the plant development.

Additional equipment has been purchased and installed at its Shredder Waste Advanced Processing Plant (SWAPP), Trafford Park, which has ‘de-bottlenecked’ part of the high-tech process.

As a result, the plant capacity has improved by over 30% per month, allowing increased volumes of auto shredder residue (ASR) from end-of-life vehicles (ELV) and Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) to be processed into its high-quality Axpoly recycled polypropylene (PP) and ABS grades.

The greater processing capacity translates into a 20% increase in recycled polymers produced per month, enabling Axion to satisfy increased demand from the construction and automotive sectors for these materials.

Axion’s processes demonstrate a full circular economy approach; extracting and refining a high-quality engineering polymer from auto shredder waste and WEEE.

Operated jointly with S Norton, one of the UK’s leading ferrous and non-ferrous metal recyclers, the SWAPP facility, one of the most advanced of its type in Europe, has an annual capacity of 200,000 tonnes separating the non-metallic fractions (ASR or shredder ‘fluff’) from the equivalent of about 800,000 cars a year.

The plant delivers the 95% recycling and recovery rate for cars, creating a circular economic model for automotive materials. Axion’s high-grade Axpoly® recycled polymers can be used as a direct replacement for virgin polymer or combined with virgin polymers for use in demanding applications, including the automotive sector.

The SWAPP investment means increased volumes of infeed material for Axion’s Salford plant, which refines plastics extracted from ELV and WEEE. It supplies tailored polymers to suit specific end-user requirements, such as modified melt flow, impact resistance and tensile strength.

Axion Polymers Commercial Operations Manager Laura Smith says the new investment is ‘great news’, meaning that they can now satisfy more customer orders, adding: “Our customers benefit from our secure source of infeed material; it means we can reliably satisfy our customer orders. Because of the process modifications we have made, we are now able to supply greater volumes of Axpoly polypropylene and ABS grades every month.”

Praising the team’s hard work, Axion’s General Manager Judith Clayman adds: “They all pulled together to design and install the plant modifications as efficiently as possible and I am very pleased with the result. The investment in the SWAPP plant shows Axion’s commitment to continuously improve and optimise its unique process for recovering materials from end of life vehicles and mixed WEEE appliances.”

Axion Polymers wins a National Recycling Award

Axion Polymers has won a 2019 National Recycling Award in the ‘Team of the Year – Commercial’ category for its circular approach to serving clients’ needs for recycled polymers.

Our knowledgeable team was praised by the National Recycling Awards judges for collaboration in developing bespoke recycled polymers to suit clients’ specifications for use in a wide range of new products.

At Axion’s two processing sites, plastics recovered from end-of-life vehicles (auto shredder waste) are refined into high-quality engineering polymers that match virgin material quality. Teamwork, expert knowledge and client liaison are crucial at every stage of the complex development process.

From initial client contact through to polymer specification and setting up machinery for best finish and results, the team delivers top performance for customers in a diverse sector. What was once considered a waste material has become a valuable raw material resource going back into different applications, such as new vehicle components, furniture and roof tiles.

Collecting the award at a ceremony at the London Hilton, Park Lane, Business Development Manager Mark Keenan said: “Circular economy principles run throughout every aspect of the Axion Polymers team’s work and we’re delighted to have been recognised with a National Recycling Award.”

Amy Stiven, Sales and Logistics Manager added: “We’re proud of our ability to understand and satisfy technical sales. We build long-term relationships with customers to deliver successful, sustainable and locally-sourced raw material supply chains with all-round economic and environmental benefits.”

Axion’s Commercial Operations Manager Laura Smith said: “We’re thrilled and very proud to have won this high-profile award, which recognises the hard work and commitment of the entire Axion Polymers team. It is justly deserved.”

The MRW National Recycling Awards bring together recycling and waste management professionals to recognise and celebrate best practice and innovation in recycling and waste management.

Corin Williams, Editor of MRW said: “Every year through the awards we discover and celebrate truly ground-breaking initiatives, technology and services. The MRW National Recycling Award 2019 winners show our industry has the inspiration, expertise and enthusiasm to meet these challenges and lead from the front.”

Axion Polymers is a National Recycling Awards finalist

Axion Polymers is a finalist in the 2019 National Recycling Awards for the ‘Team of the Year – Commercial’ category for their efforts in driving innovation in recycled polymer applications.

Axion’s experienced team was selected for its united approach in pulling together to develop bespoke recycled polymers to suit clients’ specifications for use in a wide range of new product applications.

Plastics are recycled from end-of-life vehicles (auto shredder waste) and refined into high-quality engineering polymers capable of matching the qualities of virgin material at the company’s two processing sites. This complex process requires dedicated knowledge, teamwork and close liaison with clients at every stage of the development process.

The team delivers high performance for diverse clients through a thorough understanding of their requirements from initial contact; the laboratory team working on the physical properties of the polymer following through to personal visits at clients’ premises and working with their production teams. From that stage, the team helps the client to set up their machinery for best finish and results and existing procedures are checked to ensure they are in place to deal with any customer concerns.

Laura Smith, Commercial Operations Manager says: “We’re prepared to invest a lot of time and effort in the development phase of the project because what we’re looking for are long-term relationships with our customers based on trust. And, ultimately, that is to everyone’s benefit.”

Judith Clayman, Axion’s General Manager comments: “All credit is due to the excellent team at Axion Polymers that builds long-term relationships with customers to deliver successful, sustainable – and crucially locally-sourced – raw material supply chains with all-round benefits. It’s an environmentally-friendly and economically-viable ‘virtuous circle’ of which the whole team is justly proud.”

She adds: “What was once considered a waste material is being turned into a valuable raw material resource: plastics from scrap cars going back into new vehicle components, as well as a host of different applications, from furniture to roof tiles. I’m very proud of our team that is driving the circular economy by working together to meet the customers’ diverse needs in every respect.”

The Awards ceremony will be held at The Hilton, Park Lane, London on June 27th 2019.