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Uncategorized

Sustainability: Minimising the environmental impact of a product, RAILBLAZA

May 21th, 2019 | Railblaza Team
Image

At RAILBLAZA we are lovers of the ocean, and the outdoors in general. We’re lucky to have our head office in New Zealand, which has a very clean environment by world standards, and we’re determined to play our part in keeping it that way.

We take sustainability very seriously, and sustainability is a key input into all steps of our design process, from material selection to part design and packaging, we continuously ask ourselves “how can we minimise environmental impact?”

Product Design

There are 3 key steps we follow to minimising the environmental impact of a product, most people will be familiar with the steps we use, they are known as the Three R’s Waste Hierarchy – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It’s important to note recycling is the last of these, as it occurs at the end of a product’s life, we want our products to be used by the consumer for as long as possible, to eliminate, or delay the need for recycling.

The primary sustainability goals of our design process are;

  1. Minimise the amount of materials used (Reduce)
  2. Ensure spare parts are accessible and easy to change if required (Reuse)
  3. Select materials that will have a long life in a harsh environment, and can be recycled through currently available commercial recycling programs (Recycle)

Other factors we consider during the design phase are;

  • Choose plastics to minimise “chemicals of high concern” in the manufacturing process
  • Use in-line recycling technology with the aim of eliminating waste in the manufacturing process
  • Minimise the use of co-moulding processes, which make recycling more difficult
  • Make information available about product composition to facilitate post-consumer recycling

The cost of the material is a secondary consideration in the design process and is only considered once we have established the material’s sustainability and suitability. This is one reason our products aren’t the cheapest on the market.

Packaging

With packaging, it’s definitely the case that less is more!!

During the design phase we look at the packaging, and try to use the least amount possible, this helps both the user with lower costs, and the environment with reduced recycling and waste.

We always try to use cardboard as a first option, with plastics being the second choice. Recently we have changed the plastic we use for making our blister packs from PVC to PET. While PVC is recyclable, it is not recycled in many places. PET is what soft drink bottles are made from, meaning there are many more facilities processing this material for reuse.

Recycle Cable Ties – Reduce – Reuse – Recycle

“Every year we use hundreds of thousands of cable ties, and the offcuts were waste, going to landfill. With a bit of thought, we set up a system to turn them into knobs for rod holders and more.”  Watch the video below to see a sample of this process

REUSE – its part of the company culture!

It takes a collective effort to make real change, we are proud to show how the companies sustainability goals are support by all of our staff. In our production warehouse, our staff even go so far as to bring in plastic containers from their homes to ensure they get REUSED as often as possible.  Below is an example of icecream containers being utilised daily on the production line., every little bit counts and change starts with a combination of the many small things coming together.

“in our assembly plant we need a lot of plastic parts bins, but they don’t all need to be stackable. Where possible we re-use containers from elsewhere, like the above pic with ice cream containers that we use to hold screw packs and locking slides.” Mike Edgington  – Production Manager

REUSE – its part of the culture continued…

When you make the effort you often find you’re not alone – we take pride in working with suppliers who also make an effort and in the images below you can see our plastics supplier and hardware suppliers all happily accept the boxes back to be REUSED again and again. They simply pick them up on the next delivery run and put them back into the production line to be filled and sent out again

Here at RAILBLAZA we use a lot of stainless hardware for our hardware packs in the kits,  they all come in boxes like these which are already labelled so makes sense to send them back ready to be refilled. It’s great to be working with suppliers that share the same goals to help make this possible.

A common sight around our production facility – boxes flat packed and boxes full of more boxes flat packed ready to go back into the supply chain. 

Team RAILBLAZA at the 2019 Barracuda Tour © Julien Gazeau

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