New block mix offers environmental benefits, say Marshalls

Marshalls has now started to manufacture the majority of its wide range of CBP using innovative, more environmentally conscious, and sustainable materials, according to Commercial PR manager, Jeremy Swallow. The company has comissioned independent research which shows that their new mix design has reduced the CO 2e [*] quantity of the company's overall CBP range by up to 39%.

* - CO 2 e (carbon dioxide equivalent) encapsulating all greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and measured from raw material origin to product on site.

Marshalls' Research

Responding to the ever increasing demand to produce and specify environmentally-friendly building products for construction, Marshalls' commissioned its own extensive research & development programme to investigate how through modern methods of manufacturing it could lessen its impact on the environment and this has resulted in extensive re-structuring of activities such as logistics and a closer collaboration with other businesses to achieve sustainable best practise.

As one of the leading producers of CBP in the country, Marshalls' realised that the CO 2 e associated with the cement used in its products was a real concern. Following an industry-leading research and development programme, the company has created a new cementitious mix design that uses a higher proportion of recycled materials and by-products along with the very latest admixture technology. By doing this Marshalls' claim they have reduced the carbon footprint of its blocks by roughly 39% and also established that the new mix design could be used in the majority of its CBP products.

The Trials

Throughout the development programme Marshalls' were concerned to ensure its products maintained or improved on the high performance characteristics and quality of its traditional block. This meant conforming to, or exceeding the rigorous standards set out in the industry codes and British editions of European Standards.

Working initially in the company's laboratories, Marshalls' dedicated team of Concrete Technologists tested and analysed a wide range of ingredients under strict scientific conditions. After the results were confirmed a full production trial was set up. This procedure was again constantly monitored to test whether the same performance criteria were replicated in a mass production environment i.e. reduction in CO 2 e and compliance with the British editions of European Standards.

These trials proved positive, and so Marshalls sought confirmation of its performance and reduction of CO 2 e embodiment from a leading UK-based independent consultancy, testing and commissioned research services company.

Modern Manufacturing

In line with their Sustainability Strategy, extensive investment has also been carried out at the company's manufacturing plants. To date, this strategy has already seen the company voluntarily aiming to achieve the 20% reduction in CO 2 emissions set out by the UK Government as a signatory at Kyoto, a target Marshalls says it is well on the way to achieving.

In terms of actual manufacturing efficiency this has seen the company's CO 2 emissions reduced by 25% per tonne produced when comparing 2005 with 2003, further lowering the company's carbon footprint throughout its whole product portfolio.

Future Commitment

Jeremy says that Marshalls is committed to developing its operations in a sustainable manner and has a "holistic approach" to producing environmentally-friendly landscaping materials. Apparently, this means that all decision making considers the environmental, social and economic impact of landscaping materials manufacture and supply.

He moves on to state that Marshalls recognise this adoption of a sustainable approach throughout its UK and overseas operations is the only way that it can improve the company's contribution to sustainability and society. To promote this commitment, Marshalls has launched a micro-site about sustainability with the aim of developing wider debate on sustainable landscapes and to contribute towards social, economic and environmental progress in this field.

Education will be a central focus of the "Marshalls for Sustainable Landscapes" programme in 2007. Already the company has hosted a 'Sustainability Summit' to educate consumers, trade and industry about the issues of sustainable hard landscaping. Chaired by The Sunday Times Insideout magazine, The Sustainability Summit was attended by representatives from the fields of sustainability, garden design, environmentally-conscious building, green guides and professional associations, all of whom are said to have a key role to play in setting the sustainable hard landscapes agenda for 2007. The findings of the event can be reviewed on the Marshalls Sustainability web site mentioned above. Future events are being planned by the company to strengthen the message.