The world is only approximately 8% circular. This means that only 8% of all materials are re-used, or recycled at the end of their life.
Continuously using and disposing of materials depletes natural resources and causes excessive waste generation, creating a major threat to the environment. Materials used in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), such as metals and polymers, have large environmental footprints, and packaging is often single-use. While metals are likely to be collected and recycled by scrap collectors, plastic packaging and polymer pipes are not.
All industries need to move from a linear, ‘make-use-dispose’ system to a circular ‘make-use-re-use/recycle’ system. HVAC too must align with key circular economy principles, maximising material efficiency in sourcing and operations, prioritising re-use and recycling, and eliminating waste and pollution.
Maximising material efficiency
As part of our commitment to sustainability, we are taking both a practical and an academic approach.
We are applying circular design principles to all new products; investigating how we can create donation services so our customers can give old but functioning systems back to us for recycling or refurbishment; and we are working towards a future where we send zero waste to landfill.
We will pass on our knowledge by training customers in circular economy and recyclability principles to encourage the proper use and disposal of products, and we are investing in thought leadership partnerships to explore innovative solutions to problems specific to sustainability.
The Main Challenges
The recyclability of materials and waste depends on local infrastructure and capacity, as well as the global market for recycled materials, both of which are outside our control.
We are still reliant on virgin materials such as polymer, which currently offer a significant price and quality advantage, and we are working to reduce this reliance. We aim to create Product Environmental Profiles for our polymer pipes in 2023, and we are developing innovative solutions with our industrial partners, to close materials loops.
The EU Packaging and Waste Directive provides guidance on reducing the impact of packaging on the environment and avoiding waste.
We are working to ensure all our packaging is made from recycled, recyclable or biodegradable materials, contains no single use plastic and is sourced responsibly.
Facing the Challenges
It is difficult to ensure recyclability of packaging across all our markets because every locality has its own waste collection and disposal capabilities in place. Plus, we rely on our customers to dispose of packaging, and we cannot guarantee how they are doing it.
We are launching a customer campaign to encourage the re-use and recycling of packaging, and will continue to engage with them to keep our packaging out of landfill.
The Way Ahead
We will continue to improve the environmental footprint of our packaging and reduce all unnecessary or harmful packaging, such as single-use plastics. We will balance the need for sustainability with the need for reliable and affordable packaging which enables us to transport our products safely.