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Advantage West Midlands


Economic development agency, Advantage West Midlands. provides funding and support to encourage environmental businesses to establish and grow in the region


Mr Ralph Hepworth
3 Priestley Wharf holt Street Aston science Park

West Midlands
B7 4BN

GRP roof manufacturer sheds new light on waste re-processing

Increasing awareness of its environmental responsibilities in waste disposal led Staffordshire GRP-products manufacturer Filon, into a diversification opportunity of benefit to its entire marketplace.

A leading manufacturer of glass reinforced polyester (GRP) sheeting for fifty years, Filon Products Ltd's main markets are roofing, cladding and signage. ISO9001 accredited, Filon is known for manufacturing translucent roof-light panels that allow natural daylight into large buildings. Its range encompasses opaque roofing sheets, and 'plate' for road signs, advertising displays, interior wall and ceiling linings. Filon's unique, continuous production process ensures sheet weight, thickness and profile consistency. Its recent Fixsafe product offers a safe, cost-effective, internal method of fitting replacement GRP-based roof-lights to virtually any industrial roof.

Market Development
Disposal of GRP waste and old or discarded product is challenging. To avoid poor environmental practice and increasing costs of non-degradable material going to landfill, Filon explored re-processing its substantial production waste. Specialist milling engineers helped create a GRP-waste shredding process, the results of which are reduced to powder. Investment involved in these processes prompted Filon's Operations Manager, Holger Wassink, to seek expert guidance in negotiating the complex legislative minefield leading to pollution control permits.

Discussions about workforce training with Birmingham City University revealed that issues surrounding Filon's proposed waste re-use process qualified for university-support available to SMEs developing environmentally beneficial activities, through funding from the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands (AWM).

Pollution control permits for Filon's manufacturing gas-emissions, are issued by Lichfield District Council. However, the Environmental Agency (EA) needed to be satisfied Filon's GRP-waste re-processing plans were in order for local authority permits to be extended to the new process. The University's environmental team enabled Filon to fully satisfy the regulations, including legal descriptions, under European Waste Code classification, for Filon's three grades of waste

Filon's plans have been EA-approved and local authority permits extended to cover the GRP-waste re-processing plant. This releases landfill capacity, offers significant transport and disposal cost savings, and creates new jobs. The filler materials produced are graded according to particle size. Grade 'A' provides a 2:1 resin-to-glass fibre filler powder, used by Filon in its own production, or sold within the industry. The more grainy grade 'B' will be marketed to relevant product fields, whilst coarser grade 'C' will go for building aggregates.

Future Strategy
Filon's waste re-processing is thought to be unique, enabling Filon to market the service to the GRP manufacturing industry, as well as for recycling old GRP roof panels from demolition or building upgrades. It also means GRP-based road signs will become recyclable, whereas metal signs are scrapped. The University is helping research markets for Filon's re-processed GRP.

Filon Products Limited Operations Manager, Holger Wassink, says:
"Our GRP-waste re-processing plans demanded major investment. We needed expert help to be sure of gaining necessary permits ahead of the capital commitment. With help from AWM funding, Birmingham City University's environmental innovation team gave us invaluable guidance through the regulations to the point of installing the new plant."

For further information about Filon Products Limited visit www.filon.co.uk

For further information please email Advantage West Midlands

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