Plastic Engineering and Recycling Needs Insurance to Play its Part

28/05/19 General
plastic bottles

Whilst the word ‘plastic’ is typically found in negative headlines these days, much of Britain’s manufacturing innovation and innovation is being driven by plastics engineering. The recycling of plastic waste and the use of plastic in advanced applications is increasing continually as new solutions to issues are sought. Insurance cover needs to back these developments.

The packaging and automotive sectors are just two witnessing a rapid rate of plastics innovation. Groundbreaking innovation from around the world is being showcased at trade events such as the forthcoming Plastics Extrusion World Expo (https://extrusion-expo.com/na/) to be held in Ohio in May and it is an exciting time for plastics, in many ways.

Waste plastic is being turned into fuel by an Indian engineer employing a plastic pyrolysis technique, heating waste plastic in a vacuum, before de-polymerising and gasifying the material and allowing it condense and become a synthetic fuel.

Here in Britain Waste2Tricity and PowerHouse Energy have teamed up to turn waste and unrecyclable plastic into high-grade hydrogen, at a new Ellesmere Port base. The intention is for this to be used as a transport fuel and a source of clean electricity.

New eco-focused solutions and commentary are emerging every day in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. ArcelorMittal is just one company taking a fresh look at its business – in its case, steel production – and exploring ways to use hydrogen gas to reduce the carbon intensity of its steel production. Meanwhile, a recycling expert, Arthur Huang, suggests bioplastics could be worse for the planet than ordinary plastic, setting new thought processes into motion. The University of Edinburgh and Babcock International have together created a Fastblade test facility, to carry out full-scale fatigue testing of composites and materials used in tidal energy projects. Babcock also has other projects focused on next-gen glass and carbon-reinforced plastics.

This all demonstrates the extent of innovation in the plastics sector and shows how the ‘best thing’ one day – like bioplastics – can become unfashionable the next.

Design errors and the provision of misjudged advice can proliferate wherever there is fast-moving change. Those whose clients are on the wrong end of such mistakes can quickly sue, if their business is adversely affected. Professional indemnity cover is a must for anyone providing designs, solutions, or consultancy advice, whilst public liability insurance should also be in the insurance locker, in case the public is harmed or affected by a miscalculation or a fault in design.

Checking that insurance cover is adequate and appropriate is a must for manufacturers and engineering companies, as holes in cover can easily occur where evolution is constant.

Manufacturers and engineers should beware just ticking boxes for off-the-shelf insurance policies. Site visits are often the only way to get cover right, as they enable an expert to actually see the operation and the processes and machinery used and tailor cover to suit, in a totally bespoke manner.

If such a site visit is something you have not experienced, now is probably the time to do so, especially if you operate in the fast-evolving world of plastics, plastics-focused solutions or applications, or plastic waste recycling. If you need help arranging this, please get in touch.