Chubb Fire’s Extinguisher Recycling Unit (ERU) in Hams Hall, Birmingham, has exceeded its 500,000th extinguisher recycled since the Unit opened for public business in June 2005.
The news comes as a welcome success story not just for Chubb Fire, but also the fire industry at large which has struggled with the issue of recycling. Through the establishment of programmes like Chubb Fire’s, all aspects of an extinguisher can now be recycled: the physical container, its ancillaries (such as rubber hoses) and its contents (including water and powders), all of which are now being safely processed or put to good use in an environmentally-friendly manner.
Peter Buy, Manager of Chubb’s Extinguisher Recycling Unit (ERU) explains: “Recycling is arguably the biggest single issue the fire extinguisher industry has faced for many years, and it is a credit to the industry and end-users that they realise their social and environmental responsibility for recycling aged and sometimes hazardous extinguishers and their contents.
“To put our efforts into context, in the last 12 months our ERU - which we believe is the only one of its kind in the UK and the largest in Europe – has processed more than 500,000 litres of liquid and 192 tons of powder that used to go to landfill and disposed of them in other more environmentally-friendly ways. The recycling rates for plastics and cardboard have also risen significantly, and we are now working on the issue of how to deal with the recycling of hard plastics and hoses.”
Chubb Fire is accredited as a licensed waste collection contractor, and all of its Local Business Centres (LBCs) are registered with the Environment Agency. The extinguishers typically arrive in roll cages from Chubb Fire’s network of LBCs where they have already been checked once and made safe. A significant number of all extinguishers arriving at the ERU are physically damaged, have missing parts or are corroded. Wherever possible, specialists from the ERU will journey to make an extinguisher safe on-site, and remove it, without putting others at risk.
“I would like to stress that if any member of the public – or indeed even extinguisher service engineers - come across an extinguisher that they do not think is safe, they should not handle it. Health and safety is paramount. Never put yourself at risk” Buy says.
Chubb Fire is currently looking at ways that it might reclaim, and possible all of the CO2 that is discharged as part of the recycling process.
“Our aim” Buy concludes, “is to set and raise standards in line with our increasing environmental responsibility. Chubb Fire aims to reduce what we send out to landfill from 30% to 10% of our total waste over the next 18 months,” he concludes.
Since 1997, parent company UTC has reduced total annual energy consumption by 18 percent. In 2003 UTC joined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Leaders program and voluntarily committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 16 percent per dollar of revenue from 2001 to 2006, this goal has been achieved.