Tarkett Brings ‘Closed-Loop’ Recycling to Birmingham’s Landmark Hospital

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham is the city’s first new hospital for 70 years, and is also the largest community healthcare development outside of London.  University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust took the opportunity to build sustainability into their new building from the start, and Balfour Beatty established a sustainable construction plan to deliver a sustainable building of which everyone could be proud. 

The new hospital will meet the Department of Health energy efficiency target of 35-55GJ/100m3, at 54.9GJ/100m3.  Wards are being built in an elliptical shape around inner courtyards to maximise natural light and the ventilation system has been designed to minimise use of air conditioningBalfour Beatty carried out the construction, which involved large scale excavations, reusing 49,500m3 of excavated material offsite. The amount of virgin material brought onto site was also significantly reduced by importing and recycling 16,000m3 of secondary aggregates on the project.  Extensive recycling arrangements were also put in place for wood, paper, metal, vinyl floor coverings, furniture and plasterboard.

Tarkett was selected to supply the vinyl flooring throughout the new hospital thanks to its long history of environmental achievement. These include the first vinyl recycling schemes back in the 1950s, and the introduction of PUR surface treatments that prolong the life of the flooring and reduce consumption of water, energy and detergents for cleaning by up to 30%.  Within Western Europe, Tarkett operates three large recycling plants, in Sweden, Luxembourg and France, which diverted over 43,000 tonnes of vinyl waste from landfill in 2009, enabling Tarkett products to have an average of 25% recycled content.

Parvinder Singh, Package Manager for Balfour Beatty was impressed with Tarkett’s environmental credentials, as he explained: “Tarkett were brought to us through our JPI Partner, Tyndale Flooring.  They have been very proactive from the start, clearly demonstrating to us the sustainability of their products and processes during a visit to their factory in Kent.  The fact that they were able to recycle the off-cuts from this development directly into new safety flooring for the hospital was a real advantage. They have proved to be an excellent manufacturer to work with.”

Tarkett is now working closely with Tyndale Flooring, who are carrying out the installation, in order to ensure a ‘closed-loop’ recycling system is operated.  Laurie Tansley, Senior Manager for Tyndale explained: “Based on our previous experience, we were delighted to be able to recommend Tarkett for this project.  Their recycling facilities were a big factor given the targets set by Balfour Beatty, but their products are also hard-wearing and look great when installed, helping us to meet all the requirements for the new hospital.”

The first step in the recycling process is for Tyndale to request collection of full waste bags. Tarkett logistics co-ordinate collection of the bags with the next delivery to site and the bags are returned to Tarkett’s factory in Lenham, Kent.  Once at Lenham, the product is sorted and consolidated to ensure all material sent for recycling is suitable for processing. Materials are then loaded for transportation to Clervaux, Luxembourg.

At Clervaux, the product is checked again for unsuitable material before being loaded into the recycling plant, where it is processed into vinyl pellets and then into ‘Jumbo Rolls’ of recycled backing.  The Jumbo Rolls are then returned to Lenham where they are prepared and installed on the production line. The recycled backing runs through the manufacturing process where the top layer is added and the slip resistant surface applied.  Finally, the new product is rolled and labelled ready for transportation back to Birmingham.

Tyndale Flooring has now installed over 120,000m2 of Tarkett’s Eclipse vinyl flooring throughout the new hospital, and Tarkett has collected over 55 tonnes of waste for recycling.  The bulk of this material has been reprocessed into backing material used in the manufacture of new Safetred safety flooring, some of which has been supplied back to the hospital. Over 16,000m2 of Safetred flooring has already been installed within various washrooms, toilets and utility areas.

When the new hospital opens later this year it will provide 1,231 in-patient beds, 44% of which are single rooms, while the remainder are 4-bed rooms, all with en-suite facilities. There are also 30 theatres, a psychiatric hospital and teaching facilities, as well as A&E services and a helipad. The development has already won several awards, including the 2008 CIWM Environmental Excellence in Construction and Demolition (Site Management); the RoSPA Gold Award for Occupational Health & Safety 2009, and the West Midlands Constructing Excellence Awards – Sustainability, also in 2009.

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