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Feature: Close to the edge

Innovation and the use of recycled material often go together. And Envirokerb, a combined kerb and drainage system by Pipeline and Drainage Systems (PDS), is a case in point. Created using 100% recycled plastic, components are made from household plastic bottles and supermarket packaging that may have otherwise ended up in landfill.

As the units are made of plastic rather than the traditional concrete, the system also offers a much lighter product. So it is friendlier on the back and of less concern to health and safety inspectors. It also offers economic benefits – parts can be lifted and installed manually by just one man. It therefore saves time, money, energy, and manpower during installation when compared with a concrete alternative. According to PDS, some of the components in the range are up to 70% lighter than their equivalents made from traditional materials.

Envirokerb has been used by local authorities around the country from Oldham to Southampton – the first public highway to make use of Envirokerb being the A6007 Ikleston Road in Stapleford, back in 2003.

Contractor AWG Highway Maintenance said the product’s biggest benefit was its weight because it made its construction teams more efficient and helped to reduce the occurrence of injury. It also said the material was stronger and “more robust” than conventional combined drainage systems. The plastic material does not cause as much damage as concrete to alloy wheels if they rub against it, and also does not get crushed in the same way as concrete.

PDS managing director Chris Rothery said the product is “highly impact-resistant – much greater than concrete – and so, once installed, it does not suffer the breakages that concrete materials are extremely prone to”. And once installed, the units look almost identical to concrete.

Envirokerb came about as a result of one of the first projects PDS took on. Starting in June 2000, PDS wanted to design and manufacture its own products to use for bridge and highways projects. One of its first was the widening of Tamar Bridge in Plymouth. The company was asked to design a bespoke kerb drainage system, and it was then that it first used the recycled plastic material.

“We had seen the process and the material and felt that it was suited to this type of application,” Rothery explains.

Using the light recycled units saved the contractor more than 400 tonnes of dead weight. Rothery explains was “an immense figure and of great benefit to the design team which was constantly monitoring the weight of the structure”.

Rothery explains that his company has a philosophy of “not following the crowd” and has been “pro-active in experimenting with new materials and manufacturing methods”. It was with this pro-active mentality that PDS looked at
combined kerb and drainage units for use on highways, putting to use knowledge learned from the Tamar project.

“These products had always been made from traditional materials such as concrete and because of this they are heavy, brittle and use natural resources such as sand and cements in manufacture,” Rothery explains. And so Envirokerb was born: a light, recycled, alternative product. Rothery says the units are “unique” and the first time this type of recycled material has been used for products of this kind.

Response to Envirokerb has been good – clients are mainly local authorit

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