Stepping into the future

With the increasing focus on waste management companies to innovate and create new solutions to help achieve corporate social responsibility and sustainability targets, Future Industrial Services has been quietly leading the way through its focus on closed-loop solutions. Sarah Morgan reports on the company's practices.

Since being established over 10 years ago, Future was acquired by the Irish investment company One51 group in 2007. One of its investment arms is environmental-services under the holding company Clearcircle Future, which has a specialist business division in Berwick focusing on closed-loop solutions to keep materials in the supply chain.

A good example of this closed-loop service at Berwick is the work with a major global specialist chemicals company, who supply etchant to the UK electronics and metal finishing market.

When the etchant comes to the end of its useful cycle, Berwick will collect it before chemically recovering and re-manufacturing it for the partner to a finishing product specification supplying back to industry through the affiliate distribution warehouse.

Copper compounds

The by-products of this procedure are copper compounds, which are valuable new materials required by associated industries to manufacture new products for a number of applications.

Martin Hodges, sales and marketing director at Future Industrial Services, says it is initially provided for use in Europe. “We tend to provide it for use in Europe where it’s used as a starting compound for further manufacturing”

Hodges adds the closed-loop solution has three main benefits in terms of cost-savings to the manufacturer: firstly no waste is produced, so no wastage costs; secondly, the value of the material is recovered; and thirdly, Berwick can re-supply the product or material back to a manufacturer, so they don’t need to purchase virgin material. This means they can plan for the future not having to account for the rising cost of new commodities.

The waste recycling plant operated by FIS in Berwick has developed and refined technology to extract and recover a number of other metal compounds e.g., Tin, Nickel and Mercury among others. This has significant environmental and economic benefits to the industries that utilise chemical etchants, metal-bearing solutions or have challenges managing toxic metals such as Mercury.

The current focus on compounds such as; Copper, Mercury, Nickel, Tin and Cobalt, typically used in the manufacturing, aerospace, etching and circuit-board manufacturing-industries; is providing real sustainable improvements.

It is securing its supply chain by allowing the return of regenerated etchant products, extracting best value for customers waste streams; both economically and environmentally and helps in meeting customer sustainability targets both in terms of carbon-reduction, resource-efficiency and waste-reduction.

The company’s expertise is now being extended to both chemical plant and process design. Berwick is working in partnership with clients to develop treatment solutions to solve the challenges of recovery and recycling to meet the ongoing challenges of sustainable manufacturing.

A unique service

In terms of service, Berwick is unique in the UK. Not only is it able to collect waste, recover valuable resources and supply new raw material, but it also has its own vehicles and facility. This gives it a national footprint with a national sales structure, with a centralised customer services structure at Liverpool. And now there’s an increasing move in the UK towards precision etching.

Here Berwick position themselves to challenge the Asian manufacturing as companies move back to Europe in order to secure their intellectual property, which has limited protection in the Far East. They also offer a significantly better carbon footprint for UK listed companies.

Mr Hodges also believes Future can also help clients with their waste profiling and waste audits.

“We can work with them on strategies to minimise waste or improve recycling,” he says. “A good example: a company might take all their etchant solutions and put them together in a big tank, but if they’ve avoided that and segregated them they’ve created a valuable resource rather than a mix bucket of waste.”

He is also optimistic about the issue of getting companies to change internal attitudes. “Most companies are aware of mandatory carbon reporting. We’ve got recycling behaviours at home, but not recycling would be unusual for me and I’m one of the older generation, while my kids are at school, if we don’t recycle they’re telling me off.”

As well as operating the Berwick recycling facility, Future Industrial Services has led the way in industrial services, hazardous waste management and specialist waste solutions.

Thus, Berwick currently offers an unrivalled service to UK companies and has both feet firmly in the future.

Sarah Morgan