Steve Bennett, Managing Director of Dura Products, discusses the importance of properly integrated drainage infrastructure and explains the benefits of switching to recycled plastic drainage systems.
Growing populations and urbanisation is driving the replacement of natural ground with hard, impermeable surfaces that are prone to flooding. In many parts of the UK, drainage infrastructure is insufficient and is responsible for widespread floods, causing approximately £1.3bn of damage per year. However, it is not just increased drainage efficiency that future projects need to focus on. The construction industry accounts for approximately a third of all waste and 36% of all CO2 emissions generated in the EU, and so it is crucial that the use of sustainable materials is also incorporated into forthcoming developments, particularly in the public sector.
The key to any successful surface drainage system is installation and integration. A system must be installed correctly and equally integrated within varied surfaces across a project which can often have different operational challenges. A precise, quality finish during installation with sound integration between the product, system, bed, brace and landscape will ensure optimum performance and longevity.
We are advocates of combined kerb and drainage (CKD) and linear surface drainage systems, because they continually and quickly collect run-off from any surface. Unlike the traditional kerb and gully method where flows compound on the surface, the collected run-off is contained and driven to an outlet hidden within the channel body. Additionally, the units can be manufactured to have a large usable volume – providing a scale of economy for public sector construction projects – and be made from a hydraulically efficient material. This creates fast flows, good silt transit, and overall, a very effective drainage system. It also aids longevity of structure, system and product, meaning a reduced need for future maintenance.
In recent years, there has been increased investment in the development of environmentally-friendly construction materials in the public sector, driven by challenging green targets set by and for local authorities. CKD units and linear surface drains are traditionally made from mostly concrete, however, they can easily be made sustainably from recycled plastic waste.
At Dura Products, we have developed Duradrain, a robust CKD system, as well as Durachannel which is a heavy-duty linear surface drainage system. Both of which consist of 70% recycled polymer and each unit contains the equivalent of at least 192 plastic bottles.
The environmental benefits of using recycled materials in construction are clear, for example, the diversion of waste from entering landfill. It also minimises greenhouse gas emissions and reduces energy consumption as recycling requires fewer intensive processes in comparison to the extraction and processing of raw materials. We have calculated that for every 1000m of our products installed, it saves the environment approximately 30,676kg of carbon. This is due to decreased output during production and the removal of articulated vehicles during transportation, as being made from plastic makes each unit significantly lighter than concrete.
However, we know that the public sector’s budgets are consistently being squeezed, and that price is a major concern. Recycled plastic drainage systems don’t cost the earth environmentally, but they are also worth their (light) weight financially. The cost to deliver and install them is less of its concrete competition, because plastic is lighter and requires fewer skilled workers to handle it.
Switching to recycled plastic construction materials in the public sector may seem challenging, but the benefits are already being felt by local councils across the country, such as Wokingham and Doncaster. We would encourage all project managers to consider incorporating more effective, eco-friendly and value for money drainage solutions into their construction work.