Lean2Sustain Blog

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Rubber (Plastic) Roads


If you hear the words rubber roads a number of things come to mind. As a amateur racing driver, I think potentially more “grip”. There is a new phenomena taking place. The concept of recycled plastic containers and bottles being combed from our seas and waste dumps, to be converted and substituted for the bitumen that binds our road asphalt. India has been doing it since 2002, and the Netherlands is now actively pursuing it. We have also done some pilots in the UK. This is a brilliant example of recycling. Plastic materials have very long bio-degradation times, and it can take 450 years for a plastic bottle to fully degrade. Anything that can take plastic away from is a real is a real positive. Furthermore, by removing them from the sea and rivers we can further protect fragile marine life. Plastics have a high calorific value, and waste plastic has been considered as an alternative for fossil fuels, but of course this would increase COx. Re-utilising is also a powerful way to reduce landfill, and head to the UK goal of zero landfill by 2020. It also fits in with the framework of the new 6R sustainability system that goes beyond reduce, reuse, recycle to recover, redesign, and re-manufacture.

These are now being pioneered in the UK, and an enterprising company in Scotland has developed the plastic pellet blend that will bind the aggregate. The roads are are pothole free and more hard-wearing, which is solving 2 problems in one. Potholes are a massive issue on UK roads, and these plastic repairs are more robust. This is where Lean thinking is definitely helping sustainability. If you want to know more about this concept, and how we may be able to help you, please download the paper “Delivering Sustainable Value”  from our site. Please also contact us on change@lean2sustain.com if you wish to know more.





Alternative Transport


There is a lot in the press at the moment about sustainable transport , e-cars, hybrid cars, hydrogen trains, LNG powered super-tankers, but what about e-bikes. These are gradually gaining profile. Traditionally used for leisure in hilly areas and for people want the benefit of the outside but struggle with the undulating train, now these are perfect for the city or suburban dweller. An estimated 1.8 million Britons commute more than 3 hours to work in over crowded trains, cramped and stressed conditions. There are plenty of cyclists who commute in the cities, but have the chore of wearing cycling clothing and often in need of a shower on arrival.  As e-bikes can eliminate the strenuous bits, then the need for  specialist clothing and a shower can be alleviated.  Charging times are getting faster , and bikes can charging simply at work without the need for space consuming bays that cars require. For some this could be the perfect commute vehicle, and also recreational vehicle at the weekends.



Sustaining & Saving

A fantastic announcement from the new owners of the Lochaber Smelter this week. They are going to produce automotive  components from a new manufacturing facility on the site. Initial planned investment is £120m, leading to an ultimate planned investment of £450m. This is an excellent example of how “business”, “lean” and “sustainability” can work in harmony. The smelting process, already harnesses the electrical power required from the the hydro-system, which is a renewable. Shortening the supply chain by having aluminium billets available for manufacture on site is classic “Lean” thinking. In addition to saving time, it will improve the environmental footprint, by reducing emissions related to transportation. I have been lucky enough to visit the site on a number of occasions, and the people were wonderful. A great and well deserved boost for the local economy.

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