Case Study: Cold Store Reuse

The Challenge:

Phineas Products are a leading manufacturer of hangers for the in-store display of footwear. The company recently opened a recycling plant in South Bristol that will allow it to bring manufacturing back to the UK and use recycled feedstock. Before opening the facility they needed to remove a cold store used by the site’s former tenant.

The dismantled cold store was made up of 80 panels measuring 8 metres long, 120cm wide and 10cm thick. Infrastructure for recycling insulation is very limited and any recycling programme would have meant transporting two articulated lorry loads of panels across the country. Using insulation to generate energy is not efficient as insulation is typically treated with fireproofing chemicals.

Low Carbon South West is a membership organisation that promotes the growth of the environmental sector in the South West of England and runs frequent networking events for businesses in green industries.

Bridge Road Industrial Estate is owned by a local businessman who acquires old factories and reuses them by splitting them into smaller units to provide low cost, flexible accommodation for businesses in South Gloucestershire and Bristol.

The Solution:

Keen to find a use for these panels, Collecteco were approached by Phineas Products at a Low Carbon South West networking event. The concept of the cold store is that the metal-faced highly efficient insulation panels keep cold air in a giant fridge like facility, whilst being strong and robust. As well as keeping cold in the panels are also very good at keeping cold out. Therefore they are can be used to construct cosy offices and other rooms in large warehouses. Being structural they require minimal studwork and other building work.

Due to the size and bulk of these panels, Collecteco needed to find a local use for them to minimise transport costs and minimise carbon associated with transport. Through our network of reuse organisations and individuals we marketed these panels and within 24 hours we had managed to re-home all of them to local business Bridge Road Industrial Estate.

The panels were transported to Kingswood, which is just 7 miles away from Phineas Products’facility and the whole lot was shifted on two 18 tonne lorry loads. Compare this to sending the panels down to a waste transfer station in Avonmouth and we’re already saving mileage. Had Collecteco not found a reuse opportunity there would also be mileage to be added to take the panels from the waste transfer station out of the county to an appropriate energy from waste plant or, worse still, landfill.

When dividing up large warehouses into smaller units, Bridge Road Industrial Estate normally uses virgin building materials: wood/metal for studwork, plasterboard and insulation board, as well as other materials and fixings. Phineas Products’ preloved insulation panels will only require minimal studwork and fixing and are extremely efficient compared to typical insulation as their interlocking nature prevents thermal bridging and air gaps. Also as the panels are laminated in a powder-coated metal casing they are pre-painted which further reduces waste and the use of paint and associated chemicals. The metal outer is more resistant to bashes and the elements and is more secure than using plasterboard. There are further benefits too, but I will stop there. Any off-cuts will have their metal outer layers removed for recycling and the insulation board will be used for traditional studwork and plasterboard applications for spaces not suited to the 8-metre panels.

The Results:

+ C02 Reduction: Transport minimised
+ Virgin construction materials substituted
+ Landfill Diverted: 2688kg
+ Jobs/Training Created: Collection/warehousing/delivery
+ Reuse cheaper than landfill or using skips