Foilco in green foiling first

By Max Goldbart, Friday 01 December 2017

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Hot foil specialist Foilco has claimed to have become the first Zero2Landfill accredited foil supplier in the UK.

foil-foilco

Towns wants to reassure customers that Foilco can "handle waste with confidence"

The Warrington-based firm took part in the Prismm Zero Foil 2 Landfill Scheme, which is run by Prismm Environmental and sponsored by the BPIF, between August and October, achieving certification on 1 November. 

Foilco general manager Graham Towns said the company was driven to act after receiving a number of corporate social responsibility enquiries from customers focusing on Foilco’s environmental impact and waste processing methods. 

“We were finding we needed a bit more accuracy and flesh on the bones around this and were giving flimsy or empty answers on the subject,” said Towns.

“When I took over as general manager the pattern in enquiries we were receiving lent us to look at the fact that we didn’t have ISO 14001 environmental accreditation, but we needed to start looking from an operational perspective at what we were doing to manage our waste.”

Foilco receives its foil in large-format sheets and specifies it to the end-user's desired size using custom-built reeling machines. The unrequired offcuts of foil were previously discarded as waste but are now being recycled. 

After an audit of its waste output, Foilco realised that it was dedicating 240 hours a year to sending waste to landfill, with frequent collections that were contributing enormously to its carbon footprint, and that it could instead separate waste into streams and identify the correct contractors to deal with each stream. With help from Prismm, Foilco will now dedicate around 26 hours a year to managing waste.   

The ‘carrier’ in which foil lies is made of polyester and was previously considered non-recyclable but the material is now recycled as an energy fuel, contributing towards sustainable energy supplies after being slow-burned in a kiln upon collection.

“We realised we were managing fresh air because foil is a lightweight material, 12μm, it’s a massively thin version of baking foil, so we were filling containers that were quite expensive with a lightweight material,” added Towns.

“There has been some debate in the industry as to whether or not if a foil becomes a substrate it becomes very low in the foil and the ‘carrier’ is not an environmental problem. We’ve looked at it as carrier plus foil now so the way we manage that waste has been internalised into our production process."

Moving forwards, the 40-staff firm, which turns 30 this year, is looking to develop an “environmental statement” in conjunction with Prismm, according to Towns. 

“What we are trying to establish is building a relationship that reassures significant customers that have high branded recognition in the industry that on their behalf we are capable of managing our waste with confidence and know where we are going,” he said. 

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