As a progressive and environmentally responsible business, we constantly seek ways to reduce the waste generated during operations. More specifically, we have spent the past few years working on a failed harness and safety net repurposing research project which aims to help us find innovative ways to give these materials a second lease on life.
In late 2022, our excitement surged upon receiving word from Robert Gordon University that they intended to support us on our research and development journey. Collaboratively, we are aiming to help prevent the millions of these products sent to landfills globally each month.
Early January 2023, we had a formal meeting with RGU to present the waste prevention measures we had in place. These measures included; marketing failed safety nets on our KR Bon e-commerce platform, proposing various reuse options such as securing trailer and skip loads, as well as DIY projects involving climbing frames and hammocks. Alongside this, we introduced the sale of the metal components of the harnesses for sale for DIY projects. Other findings included a company that recycles harness waste webbing into new products, whilst utilising the metal elements for belt buckles; to a company looking into the feasibility of reusing the material for making clothes. However, no solution was available where the waste could be reused/ recycled on a large scale.
KR Group collaborated with RGU’s Professor James Njuguna and researcher engineer, Shohel Siddique, for over 3 months on this project and identified the main 2 material types in the waste, Ethylene based Polyesters (EBP) and Polyamide (PA), both high-quality textiles.
James Njuguna said “Safety harnesses, safety nets, and lanyards are very important components of safety. However, their end of life is highly problematic and feeds into the current disposal at landfill sites. KR Group continues to make breakthroughs in addressing difficult waste streams. This exciting collaboration project provides great insight into the challenges we are facing from increasing waste streams. The solutions and opportunities of implementing circular economy practices in the recyclability and repurposing options are highly promising.”
Various harness repurposing options, both low and high-risk, were considered; however, all presented a labour-intensive and nonviable solution when addressing the hundreds of tons of materials that are sent to landfills or waste-to-energy facilities annually in Aberdeen and its surrounding region.
The next option investigated was converting the waste material into recycled content Polyester (r-PE) and Polyamide (r-PA) yarn.
Subsequently, the investigation delved into the transformation of waste materials into recycled content Polyester (r-PE) and Polyamide (r-PA) yarn. This process starts by cleaning, pulverizing, and dehydrating the materials. They then convert the materials into chips and subject them to specialized machinery for the melt extrusion process. The resulting product undergoes spinning into yarn, making it suitable for manufacturing new items. Regrettably, the United Kingdom currently lacks the requisite specialized equipment for large-scale implementation of this procedure. Nevertheless, we are actively exploring discussions with a potential European manufacturer capable of offering this service. This very feasible solution will provide circular economic solutions and curtail the demand for virgin materials in the production of safety nets and harnesses.
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