At Tarmac, Dr Bill's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of Spring
Last September, Tarmac's Cement business opened its new state of the art cement packing facility at Tunstead near Buxton (home of the iconic Opera House, the Devonshire Hospital, and other architectural gems), building on its capability to produce cement packed in plastic sacks or plastic tubs at the works. This was also combined with improved rail links for transportation of bulk cement, so six months on it seems like a good time to review the impact of this facility for customers.
Although it may appear counter-intuitive, packing cement in plastic rather than paper can actually be more sustainable. When cement packed in paper bags is stored on site, there is always a risk that our notoriously unpredictable weather may deliver a deluge of biblical proportions leading to soggy bottoms and spoiled cement. Independent studies have shown that the reduction in waste resulting from the use of weatherproof plastic packaging in place of paper makes a significant contribution to sustainable building, as less cement in total is purchased for any given job. Purchasing plastic packed cement is tantamount to taking out an insurance policy against bad weather.
Within the UK building materials market, plastic packaging of cement and other cement-containing products continues to evolve; from simple sacks to re-sealable plastic tubs and even smaller bags with integral carrying handles. The Tunstead packing facility therefore enhances the availability of these products and their benefits.
Another feature of the modern cement industry is the increased ability to deliver bulk materials via rail, in place of trucks and tankers. Like many bulk materials, large quantities of cement can be carried more efficiently in specialised trains than in individual trucks. The reduction in fuel consumption (per tonne of material), vehicle movements and emissions as a result of rail transport all contribute to industry targets for reducing the amount of CO2 associated with the production and use of cement. Last, but certainly not least, the generation of new jobs in a rural area is also a positive outcome.
So all in all, the new facility at Tunstead has improved the availability of sustainably packed cement, in the market place, and improved the efficiency of delivery, whilst also creating jobs. Looks like a clear example of ‘Win – Win’ to me!