Plastics and the Environment

Here at Professional Building Supplies and the PBSL Group we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously. Like everybody else we are concerned with the recent news that plastics are littering both our marine and land environments and we are working closely with our industry supply partners to minimise  the impact that our activities have on our surroundings.

It is our firm belief that if all households and businesses start to take responsibility for their own actions then a tangible change can be made that will help to preserve our planet for future generations.  


Single Use Plastics 

Although this term is generally used to describe plastic bags, plastic straws, cold drinks bottles, stirrers for hot drinks and most food packaging, there is actually no such thing as single use plastic, as in theory all types of plastic can be recycled. However in reality recycling is limited by a number of factors such as people’s behaviour, the local collection infrastructure and cost considerations. These types of products are generally the most damaging in terms of littering and are justifiably the main priority for the actions required to protect our environment. They are very different in both use and nature to plastic building materials.   


Building Plastics 

By their very design, plastic building materials have a long life cycle. Take a look around and you will see pipes, gutters and roofline materials that were installed as much as 40 years ago. These products were the fore-runners of what we use today – the technology used today to manufacture such plastics has advanced hugely since the emergence of PVC building products in the 1970’s. Many of our current stock products include an element of recycled plastics in their ingredients, and most are totally recyclable when their useful life does finally come to an end.   

Plastic pipework and gutters are approximately 90% lighter than the traditional materials that they replaced. This means that much less resource is required for transportation – for example 250m of 450mm pipe can be transported on a single vehicle, compared to four loads of the concrete equivalent. This lowers the whole carbon footprint of the project. 

Many of our pipework systems are used to enable the installation and ongoing performance of sustainable building technology, helping our customers to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint and to manage the effective use of water. Other systems such as PVC Cladding and Roofline products reduce the need for milled timber and as they are maintenance free no solvents or paints are required for their ongoing upkeep.



We use recyclable cardboard boxes to transport all of our fittings. The bags which Floplast's fittings are sent in are made from LDPE and can be recycled. Our extrusions are generally packed in bubble wrap – mainly because it’s very light, strong and does not consume many resources to produce or transport. If it was simply replaced by other materials, resource use would increase on average by between 2-4 times, depending upon how you measure its impact (weight, energy or greenhouse gas emissions). 

It is also relevant to point out that packaging is used to protect our goods. Without it we would undoubtedly suffer more damages, leading to demand for replacement products and repeat journeys. Studies have found that as a rule, production of packaging consumes only a fraction (around one tenth) of the energy resources used to produce the goods that they protect. 

Bubble wrap and film can be recycled, although most local authorities do not currently provide resources for this. For those who can't recycle plastic film at home, there are some types of plastic films that can be recycled at carrier bag collection points at the larger stores of most major supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, The Co-op and Waitrose.


Which types of Plastic Packaging can be recycled?

The following different types of plastic films are accepted at carrier bag collection points.




Plastic carrier bags

Any non-Polyethylene film (e.g. PP, PVC, others)

Plastic bread bags (shake out)

Cling film

Plastic cereal bags i.e. Porridge Oats (not inners from boxed cereals)

Food and drink pouches

Plastic wrappers and ring joiners from cans and plastic bottles

Crisp packets

Plastic wrappers from toilet roll and kitchen towel packs

Film lids from ready meals and food trays

Plastic freezer bags 


Plastic magazine and newspaper wrap (type used for home delivery only)


Thin bags used for fruit and veg at supermarkets


Bubble wrap




Plastic Pellets – Operation Clean Sweep

Although it is not well publicised, the British Plastics Federation is leading the way with a number of vital initiatives. These include Operation Clean Sweep, which is a scheme focused on plastic manufacturing operations in the UK. The aim is to that ensure that plastic pellets, powders and flakes which are vital to the production of plastics are handled safely throughout their life-cycle. By signing up to Operation Clean Sweep, companies make a commitment to adhere to best practice and implement systems to prevent plastic pellet loss - and that they will play their part in protecting the aquatic environment. Many of our suppliers have already signed up and we are actively discussing this initiative with those who haven’t yet done so. 


Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan

The British Plastics Federation is also actively involved in PIRAP, which is the Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan. PIRAP was set up in June 2015 to help meet the 57% plastic packaging recycling target by 2017. The end target date has now been extended out to 2020  - whilst we are making good progress as a whole in this area there is still a challenge for industry in general as further infrastructure development is needed. PIRAP aims to combat these problems by approaching the issue with three key initiatives, namely;

  • increase collection
  • improve sorting
  • develop end markets for recycled plastics 

If you have any queries about the environmental impact of our products policy please feel free to contact us or write us at PBSL Group Ltd, Unit 1B, Altbarn, Hawkins Road, Colchester, Essex, CO2 8LG, United Kingdom.