Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Go Hand in Hand
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
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Jim Bjerre Andersen, QHSE Manager
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Recyclability may not get the same attention as energy efficiency or renewables. Perhaps it should. Especially for areas with landfill challenges, recyclability is critical in the pursuit of a sustainable future.
Renewables and energy efficiency often outpace product lifetime and recyclability. But in fact, they are just as effective measures to solve the global climate crisis, and they are essential in creating a sustainable future – especially for areas facing landfill problems like Singapore.
Currently, there is a drive towards increasing the recyclability of industrial products. And with good reason. It is crucial to improve product recycling to achieve global climate goals. Generally, recycling is more associated with glass, paper and plastic products but recycling industrial products using aluminum and steel is equally important and an obvious way to lower CO2 emissions and reducing waste.
Industrial fans with 98% recyclability
NOVENCO Building & Industry – a manufacturer of high-efficiency and environmentally friendly ventilation equipment – wanted to increase the recyclability of their ZerAx® fan solution. The fan is used in a wide range of applications, including industrial ventilation, air handling units and data centre cooling and can achieve energy savings of 20-50%.
NOVENCO planned to contribute further to the green agenda by improving the recyclability of their fan solution. Implementing a Design for Recycling processes demonstrated an excellent recyclability rate of 98%. But how does a fan manufacturer take on the task of documenting and improving the recyclability of an industrial product?
Improved recycling requires expert knowledge
NOVENCO collaborated with Stena Recycling, a recycling company and a partner for developing sustainable circular solutions in all types of operations. They were a perfect partner for NOVENCO because they had material insight and considerable waste reduction experience.
“Competent interaction with external specialists is important to us. And the access to the knowledge Stena Recycling possesses was of key importance to us.”
- Lars Erik Knaack, CEO, NOVENCO Building & Industry
Following Stena Recycling’s advice, NOVENCO started a Design for Recycling process, which involves close analysis of the manufacturing process and a detailed report on the use of materials and recycling rates.
For NOVENCO, it created transparent processes and procedures that improved the company’s material recycling rate. One outcome is an efficient sorting system separating aluminium and steel, and with a higher degree of material recycling, more recycled resources can be included in the production loop.
Manufacture products to last the distance
One further and obvious way to reduce the waste of valuable resources is to ensure that mechanical equipment is manufactured to a high quality that will result in a long operational lifetime. Not only is this good for building owners and operators, but this also means that the material will stay in the circular economy for a longer period, reducing strain on the production of new materials and on already stretched land fill sites. NOVENCO products are designed and manufactured to have an effective lifespan of over 20 years which is considerably longer than most similar products.
Reducing waste in densely populated regions
A high recyclability rate has obvious benefits: It lowers CO2 emissions, reduces resource consumption and minimizes waste. And this is particularly interesting for densely populated areas, where waste is one of the main climate challenges.
“Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important issue as the population of the planet increases, and we have a scarcity of resources, which we will continue to experience.”
Jimmi Olsen, Marketing Manager at Stena Recycling
Singapore has a population density of 7,810 people per square kilometer, and the increasing population over the years within a very limited space poses challenges such as land scarcity.
Consequently, the city-state is running out of landfill space, and recycling and up-cycling are ways to minimize waste and mitigate this issue effectively.
Even though proactive businesses have adopted more resource-efficient practices to reduce emissions and cut waste, the need for products and solutions based on sustainable production methods are more imperative than ever before.
In conclusion, whilst we transition to greener energy sources and the improvement in the efficiency of our buildings, we must also focus on all aspects of sustainability including the recyclability and lifespan of mechanical products to ensure that valuable material resources are not discarded to landfill sites after a short operational period. Not only will this ease the situation for land scarce countries such as Singapore, but it will also result in a lower requirement for new materials to enter into the production cycle.