Saturday, April 13, 2024

COMMON-SENSE INTO SUSTAINABLE INNOVATION

Aarsleff Pipe Technologies (APT), has developed a number of green initiatives over the years that implements and defines a direction for its customers, its employees and for society in general. But the company says it is not there yet but is well on its way.

The construction sector is among the world’s largest consumers of natural resources and emitters of CO2. This requires it to take responsibility, to be receptive to new demands and changing expectations and to be able to turn climate challenges into sustainable opportunities.

Being a European market leader in trenchless pipe renewal brings with it a clear responsibility. The company wants to contribute to the green transformation of the construction industry and ensure that the Aarsleff Group has a common approach to
sustainability that creates value for customers, employees and society.

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Over the years, the Group has launched a number of initiatives to help Aarsleff Pipe
Technologies move in a more sustainable direction. Some of the initiatives are brand new. Others are more than 10 years old. But what they all have in common is that they are promoting the green transformation in the construction industry.

Documented CO2 savings

In itself, the company’s CIPP lining method is a very environmentally friendly alternative to pipe renewal by excavation, because it avoids putting the surrounding infrastructure on standby. APT’s method also allows it to complete the renovation within a few hours and, using its environmentally friendly LED curing method, ensure a uniform and fast curing of the liner.

To better measure the impact of its trenchless solution, APT has worked with Sweco, Europe’s largest architectural and engineering consultancy, to develop a CO2 calculation model that shows the CO2 emissions of an excavation solution versus its trenchless solution. Each time the company prepares a quote for a potential customer, it prepares a specific calculation of emissions and attaches it to the proposal, so the customer can see the actual CO2 savings for their particular project.

“We know that our customers have ambitious sustainability goals and with our calculator, we can prove that our solution helps them get a step closer to achieving their goals.” stated Technical Support Manager at Aarsleff Pipe Technologies, Kristian Hjelm Jacobsen.

From Soda Bottles to Recycled Felt

At Aarsleff Pipe Technologies, up to 90% of its felt liners are made from recycled fibres from PET bottles, a type of plastic bottle made from polyester that is typically known as water and soda bottles. The bottles are broken down into flakes, which are melted down and spun into new fibres that are used in the felt liner.

According to Kristian, the use of recycled felt is nothing new. It has been around for many years: “The liner has been part of our standard product range for more than eight years. Some 10 years ago, we started testing the use of PET bottles to make recyclable fibres into felt. We also tested other recycled materials, but found that from a quality perspective, PET bottles gave us the best material compared with virgin fibres.” He added: “When
we started the project 10 years ago, we mainly did it for economic reasons, and we have to admit that we did not have the same focus on sustainability back then. It was just common sense. But today, we can see that the project serves a greater environmental purpose, and now the price of the recyclable fibres is actually higher than new fibres. We see it as an investment in a more sustainable future.”

In addition to the use of PET bottles in the felt liner, five years ago Aarsleff Pipes began testing the use of PET bottles in the resin used to impregnate the liner, so that no wastewater seeps through the liner and into the surrounding environment. The company is currently testing a combination in which 20% of the resin comes from recycled polyester, while the remaining 80% is made from virgin polyester.

“We need to be absolutely sure of the quality we deliver. We have found that we cannot use more than 20% recycled material if we want to maintain the quality and life expectancy of the product.” explained Kristian Hjelm Jacobsen.

Sustainable deliveries

The fact that Aarsleff Pipe Technologies is launching a number of sustainable initiatives itself is one thing. Ensuring that its suppliers are also riding the green wave is another.

New sustainability requirements mean that increasingly operators must be able to document the CO2 emissions of the processes, materials and supplies of pipe renewal projects. In tender documents, increasingly the industry will start to see sustainability as an important criterion for selection. Therefore, APT has started developing procedures to increasingly rate suppliers on a number of different environmental factors, so that its
deliveries can become increasingly sustainable from cradle to grave.

However, this is not an overnight process. According to Kristian, examining which national and international tools and standards should form the basis for the measurements and data processing is a very important task: “It is important that we and our suppliers work from the same tools, to make it completely transparent to the customer how the measurements are made. We are worried that, in some markets, models will appear that do not meet international standards, and we want to avoid that at all costs. We need to be able to compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges. It is as simple as that.”

Green partnerships

At Aarsleff Pipe Technologies, it is in the process of its green transition, but cannot do it alone. That is why it does not view its work as a delivery either. APT sees it as a partnership, where it and its customers work together to reap the climate-friendly gains
in the market.

Kristian believes that knowledge sharing is an important element of this partnership saying: “With more than 40 years of experience in piping technology, we have handled pretty much everything. We have endured many upswings and downturns, experimented and made mistakes, all which we are happy to share. In the same way, our customers have a lot of knowledge that makes us smarter. He concluded: “If we use this knowledge to challenge and inspire each other, we will continuously improve our solutions and strengthen sustainable innovation in the industry.”

No Quick Fix

APT knows that the sustainable transformation is not a quick fix that will be completed
tomorrow. It is a resource-intense journey that will inevitably involve detours and obstacles along the way.

“The future will probably entail elements in the triple bottom line, social, environmental and economic, becoming more or less equal. For example, we cannot have a sustainability agenda without someone paying for our development projects, and we are realistic about that.” said Kristian.

Through the Aarsleff Group ECO Center, established in January 2021, the company is working across business units to increase the volume of innovative, sustainable initiatives. For the benefit of customers, employees and society. It is not there yet, but it is well on its way.

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