Swish Environmental Actions 2021

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.

2021 Report

2020 and 2021  have been difficult years for everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic and comparison of results is difficult due to lockdowns, however Swish has seen continued improvement despite these difficulties.

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.

2021 Actions

Electricity consumption continues to be our biggest focus for reductions in usage.  During 2021 the process improvement team focused on opportunities in the extrusion hall and we have now modified all our cellular lines with a single vacuum pump set-up delivering a further 35 tonnes of CO2 per annum.  In addition to using LED lights across our whole estate we have implemented active sensors to further reduce energy use in lighting, especially in warehouse areas.  This upgrade achieved savings of 48 tonnes per annum of CO2.

Swish has also replaced an old transformer with an Ultra-Low-Loss transformer.  This project will reduce energy losses to the tune of 51 tonnes per annum of CO2.  Further manufacturing efficiencies were achieved during 2021 as we focus on reducing scrap which always has a positive impact on energy efficiency.

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.  The sub-metering and frequent monitoring continue to deliver on-going speedy resolutions to leaks.  The overall downward trend continues and since 2008 the company has achieved a staggering 69.59% reduction in water use.

Diesel usage was slightly down on 2020’s efficiency as our sales of bought in items continue to grow. [citation needed]

The company's environmental achievements during 2021 and since 2008 look like this:

Emissions of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) from operations Tamworth


2020/21 Change

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



Waste Prevention

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 2019 the following waste was collected and processed:

  • Production & office waste recycled (primarily card, poly, paper, wood and metal).
  • General waste (unsorted).

 Emissions of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) from operations Tamworth


2021 Actual

Change since 2008

Production & office waste

Primarily card, poly, paper, wood and metal



General waste

Unsorted waste



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:

  • improve future resource use at end of life
  • and the measures that Swish takes to engage with its staff and supply chain to promote behavioural change and share best practice.

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.

  1. PVC can be recycled up to 8 times depending on the application, because the recycling process does not measurably decrease the chain length of PVC molecules
  2. A study completed in 2011 on behalf of DG Environment (European Commission), estimated the amount of construction/demolition waste to be around 460 million tonnes in 2005. Plastics waste accounted for less than 2% of this waste. The amount of PVC waste represents less than 0.4 % of the total amount of construction waste. In parallel, a study published in 2000 by Prognos estimated that PVC represented less than 1 % of municipal solid waste (MSW) – Source Vinyl Plus Website. 

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.

Staff Engagement

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.


Actual 2020

Target Range 2021

2021 Actual

Customer Service


75%     to     85%




1000ppm   to 800ppm




5.5%    to     4.5%


Delivery Shortages


1.00%   to    0.62%


Pick Errors


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 2018/19 the following BIT projects were successfully completed:

  • Line speed improvements increased output by 4%
  • Scrap was reduced by 0.56%
  • Labour cost per tonne (our measure of how much we spend per good tonne produced) improved by 4%

During 2014 Swish successfully launched an Employee Suggestion Scheme. In 2019, 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.


Heater Fuel

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.