Plastic re-born

PDS gives ‘a second life’ to waste plastics through the creation of innovative drainage products and systems made entirely from recycled materials

Founded on 1st June 2000, Pipeline & Drainage Systems (PDS) began operating from an office in Founder and Managing Director Chris Rothery’s house. First trading in a range of construction materials, PDS also developed Hydrodeck, a bridge kerb drainage product, which quickly became a market leader.

But the real game changer occurred when PDS was invited to look at a drainage problem on the Tamar Bridge in Saltash, Plymouth. As Chris Rothery explained, the lightweight composite kerb drainage unit created for the project formulated the idea for other composite draining products, and in 2003, the EnviroKerb (the first completely 100 per cent recycled kerb drainage system) was introduced. “This also coincided with more stringent guidelines for manual handling of heavy products on site, and stricter environmental targets for the construction industry. EnviroKerb, a fraction of the weight of concrete alternatives ticked a lot of these boxes! These advantages are also relevant to the water industry so in 2007 we began the design and manufacture of EnviroChamber, aimed at that market, and today we hold long-term supply chain contracts with many water authority clients including Thames, which we secured in 2015, and we’ve just re-signed two of our biggest water authority clients for another three years as well.”

While Chris has highlighted many benefits of composite products, clearly one of the major advantages is the use of recycled plastic in their manufacture. “A lot of the collected plastic material in the UK is either incinerated or landfilled, and China no longer takes our waste, which makes it even more important to find a solution to the problem,” said Chris. “We give this waste ‘a second life’, and through a careful process, we have identified the kind of plastics we need to ensure our mouldings are strong, and of the right colour and weight. We hope that the worldwide focus on the plastic issue reinforces the need for our industry to support the use of more recycled products.”

The EnviroRange clearly illustrates the inventive approach adopted by PDS, and the company embraces innovation throughout its operations, particularly in manufacturing. “We have worked with some very clever tooling engineers over the years, and this has to be the most sophisticated part of our process,” noted Chris. “We are now on our thirdgeneration tooling, where products come out of the tools pretty much completed apart from a patented finishing process. We are always trying to find ways of improving our production, and we invest heavily in new tooling every year, and we also have longer term goals to investigate new machinery technologies that could assist in our manufacturing processes, some of which simply did not exist ten years ago.”

PDS also received a significant boost when the company was acquired by USL/RPM in 2010, as this allowed it to bring manufacturing in-house. “The Group provided the investment needed to create a new five-acre manufacturing and distribution centre in Sheffield, that we encourage our customers to visit.

“RPM/USL is very supportive when it comes to new innovations and since 2010 we have produced new products and supplied schemes all over Europe and as far away as Australia, where we have designed and manufactured bespoke kerb units to Australian designs and specifications,” added Chris. “In addition, we have seen a lot activity of Europe where our Netherlands based distributor is making real progress introducing and selling our products to a wider audience.”

Closer to home, Highways England has always been a big client for PDS, and the company supplied many of its Managed Motorway projects including M62 Widening Junctions 25-28. “We are still supplying an M1 project near Nottingham, and once complete the site will have used almost 20,000 of our kerbs and channel products and the scheme will have contributed to the recycling of almost 180 tonnes of recycled material,” Chris stated.

“We are also continuously improving, so there’s been further tweaking of our EnviroKerb product, and we will be introducing our new kerb to the market during our second quarter. This is occurring alongside the on-going introduction of new products and the investments mentioned previously, and we believe this strategy will take us towards our five-year objective of a 40 per cent increase in sales.

“The desire to buy recycled products is growing, as environmental legislation becomes stricter and awareness around the issue of waste plastics comes to the fore. We have to find alternative solutions, and we believe that supporting manufacturers like PDS and putting this recycled material to good use has to be the way forward.”

Services: Manufacturer of composite drainage products and systems