Swish achieved ISO14001 Environmental Management Certification in 2007. Since that time Swish has continuously improved the environmental performance of its manufacturing and distribution operations. In 2015 Swish achieved ISO50001 Energy Management Certification, a further demonstration of the company’s commitment to continuing environmental improvement.
Swish Building Products is an industry leader in the efficient production of cellular PVCue and PVCu products. We recognise that it is becoming increasingly important to use our material and energy resources more efficiently, effectively and with greater regard to the environmental effects that flow from their use.
The Swish Resource Use Policy sets out the company’s commitment to reducing and refining its use of resources based on the principles of Vinyl Plus, the European PVC industry’s own commitment to meaningful environmental action over the period to 2020.
In 2007 Swish achieved ISO14001 Environmental Management Certification and as a result has improved its performance in terms of production efficiency and waste management. This in turn has led to significant reductions in energy inputs, water usage and scrappage rates during manufacture. Improvements in our transport efficiency have led to better levels of service and reductions in fuel usage.
These represent the most obvious and effective actions that the company could take in the short to medium term in order to make meaningful reductions in resource use.
Electricity consumption continues to be one of the most challenging areas for reductions in usage. The process improvement team continued to roll out the installation of new low consumption vacuum pumps with an expectation of saving 80 tonnes of CO2 in the year. LED lighting was installed across the remaining 50% of the site that hadn’t been included in the 2017 programme and a new high performance, low energy chiller is expected to reduce the our CO2 footprint by 43 tonnes per annum.
A new system of shutting down the cooling system in the factory when not in use was instituted and will save 9 tonnes of CO2 per annum while a compressed air leakage audit identified actions that will save over 30 tonnes per annum. Replacements for other production systems have resulted in CO2 reductions of 15tonnes in the year.
The Swish philosophy is that all incremental reductions in CO2 output are worth considering and indeed across the year they add up to a considerable contribution to the business’s environmental effort. As a result the engineering department undertook several low impact improvement projects during the year.
Water usage reduction has been one of the remarkable success stories of the Swish environmental programme. After the site usage had increased by 21% in 2017 over 2016 we managed to pull the usage back by 4.12%, thus making up some of the losses. The overall downward trend continues and since 2008 the company has achieved a staggering 73.4% reduction in water use.
Diesel usage was back on track during 2018. With more driver monitoring of harsh braking, cornering and speeding the usage was reduced by 2.6%.
The company's environmental achievements during 2018 and since 2008 look like this:
Emissions of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) from operations Tamworth
Change since 2008
Direct Impacts Fixed (Production)
Electricity, Gas, Heater Fuel
Moving Impacts (Transportation)
Transport Vehicle Fuel, LPG
Combined Fixed and Moving
Consumption of water
Since 2010 Swish has collected and sorted its own cardboard, paper, polythene, wood and metal waste. The remaining general (unsorted) waste is collected by Swish’s waste processing partner Briers.
All of the sorted and unsorted waste is reprocessed by Briers and a report supplied to Swish on a monthly basis showing the outcome of the sorting process.
Since 2010 no waste has gone directly from the Swish site to landfill.
Swish reports its waste figures in two forms. In overall terms during 2017 the following waste was collected and processed:
Emissions of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) from operations Tamworth
Change since 2008
Production & office waste
Primarily card, poly, paper, wood and metal
Manufacturing material waste - Swish is a highly efficient manufacturer that creates little material waste relative to its size of operation. Any manufacturing waste that is generated, including saw dust from in line saws, is recycled back into the production process.
Waste from raw material transportation and storage is minimised by the use of silo storage and supplier control of the material levels in those silos.
Future Resource Use
The following report sets out the actions that Swish is taking to:
The Short to Medium Term -
The reductions in energy inputs, water usage and scrappage rates referred to above represent the most obvious and effective actions that the company can take in the short to medium term in order to make meaningful reductions in resource use. The key to these reductions is a policy of close monitoring and incremental changes based on sound environmental and payback criteria.
The Swish Annual Environmental plan sets out the company’s aspirations for reductions in resource use. It acts as a carrot and stick mechanism for improvement by setting targets that are required to be achieved while quantifying the expected CO2 savings.
To this end Swish also engages with its employees in looking for process improvement ideas and initiatives that they may have insights into. They are the equipment operators and understand where constructive changes can be made. Generally the company now purchases high quality service equipment which usually has the best energy consumption figures and requires the least maintenance.
The Longer Term -
It is important to note the following facts about PVC in general and cellular PVC in particular.
So PVC can be recycled many times over but because of its longevity the amounts of PVC available in PCW format are extremely small. It has been estimated that 2,700 tons of scrap are generated during installation and that less than 100 tonnes of cellular PVC is removed from buildings under refurbishment each year. This represents a tiny fraction of the cellular PVC industry’s annual output and even if it were recoverable as clean material it would not constitute a viable source of material on which to base production planning.
Swish has looked at its options for reclaiming and reusing the installation waste element above and has identified the major barriers to implementation that face the company and the industry:
Volume – the volume of waste scrap available industry wide in an easily processable form is very low and does not constitute a reliable waste stream in terms of predictable volumes.
Human nature – Any successful method of scrap collection (eg special bag) will have to be easy/convenient to use and be positioned close to the point where the scrap is generated. Experience in the window frame industry has pointed to the likelihood that a variety of plastic and other scrap will be included with any PVC offcuts such that processing costs are likely to be high to filter and clean the specific materials that can be brought in for recycling.
Material type – It is important that we only incorporate scrap from our own cellular PVC products and not scrap from other cellular PVC manufacturers or scraps of non-cellular or rigid PVC.
Cleaning – Swish possesses the capacity to regrind and recycle clean boards of a larger size. However are not able to clean and grind smaller or contaminated pieces of PVC. Therefore the preferred route to cleaning would be with an experienced collection and reprocessing partner.
Transportation costs – When a process partner is involved in the equation the costs of transportation start to become a significant factor in the viability of any such scheme.
Alternative material sources
An alternative approach is to use appropriate recycled PVC from other sources. Swish has started to look at other recyclable materials as an alternative to cellular PVC off cuts. Plastic bottles present a possible source of material; it is clean with a predictable nature but may not be obtainable in sufficient quantities on a sustainable basis.
Swish believes that there is a virtuous circle which helps the company and its employees to drive waste and inefficiency out of the manufacturing system and allows the workforce to realise the benefits of that process in terms of bonuses against specific targets.
Swish therefore measures specific efficiency improvements as per the table below.
Target Range 2018
96% to 98%
1500ppm to 1200ppm
6.7% to 5.3%
0.92% to 0.62%
0.28% to 0.24 %
All of these measures are aimed at improving resource use by, for example reducing errors in the system that require reworking product or taking back and redelivering orders, with all the costs and squandering of resources that this involves.
Staff Training and Engagement
All staff are given regular training on the best and safest way to perform tasks in the workplace. This is done through drawing up SOP’s that are the result of Risk Assessments which are themselves drawn up in conjunction with affected employees. This encourages efficiency and safety which in turn promotes better use of resources. Swish also operates business improvement teams (BITS) drawn from staff members that look specifically at current methodologies and seek to improve the ways that tasks are done.
In 2017/18 the following BIT projects were successfully completed:
During 2014 Swish successfully launched an Employee Suggestion Scheme. In 2018, as a result of an employee suggestion, a significant re-organisation of the racking in the warehouse was undertaken which produced narrower isles and allowed us to carry a greater level of stock. The project was completed in the summer of 2018 and now allows us to store an extra 200 stillages inside. This promotes greater production efficiency and means that less product has to be reworked over time.
Joint Consultative Committee
Swish runs a regular consultative committee where management and workforce representatives meet to discuss company performance and general issues concerning working conditions.
Supply Chain Engagement
In accordance with its transport policy, Swish has now asked its suppliers to start reporting on mileage, fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts associated with their deliveries to Swish. This has been done in order to encourage suppliers to undertake continual improvements in the efficiency of their transportation arrangements
Swish works with its major suppliers to try and reduce waste in the system. A leading example of this is that Imerys and Kaneka are now responsible for their own vendor managed silos at Swish.
In 2015/16 Swish opened its new, central distribution centre in Tamworth. The warehouse now deals with all stock and deliveries that were previously administered by a warehouse in Telford, which has now been closed. This has significantly increased the vehicle mileage that falls within the recording remit of this site but will reduce the overall supply mileage currently undertaken by our fleet to replenish our stockists and will increase our customer service capability.
Swish will take back any damaged or misshapen boards that may be returned to our stockists and recycle them in the normal way.
Installers and Contractors
Specification – The Swish Technical department provides detailed specifications for newbuild customers so that each plot lot is made up in the most efficient manner.
Training – The Technical Service Department provide installation training to ensure that contractors are aware of the installation requirements and how the installation is made up from the boards specified.
Product range – The Swish range features a large number of board sizes that are designed to fit most popular applications. This is done in order to reduce waste that may be generated on site by unnecessarily cutting down larger boards.
Electricity usage is monitored on a weekly basis by a series of sub-meters to understand where energy is being used on site. Efficiency plans and targets are in place to continuously improve energy performance. Swish has invested in energy efficient equipment including motors, pumps, lighting, compressors and inverters.
Water usage is monitored on a weekly basis by a series of sub-meters to understand where water is being used on site and to identify any leakages. Efficiency plans and targets are in place to continuously minimise water usage. Swish has invested in new , more efficient equipment across its manufacturing site.
Simple reduction measures are in place including employee awareness training, reducing numbers of heaters in unnecessary places, closing windows, shutting down heaters when not required, regular servicing and turning down the level of heat output overall.
All waste streams on site have been identified and are segregated and processed where possible (this includes all paper, cardboard, polythene, wood and metal). Since May 2010 any waste which cannot be processed on site has been sent to a waste management supplier, who sorts the waste to minimise landfill. All production scrap, start-up scrap, saw dust, misshapen or damaged boards are ground up and recycled back into production.
Vehicle CO2 Emissions
The vehicle fleet is Euro V compliant and will be uprated with Euro VI vehicles in the Autumn of 2017. Optimised vehicle servicing, load planning and vehicle routing contribute towards fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 output.