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"When we formed GT Trax way back in early 2005 our core product was the supply and rental of plastic trackway to the event industry and although our product portfolio has developed over the years, plastic trackway has remained the cornerstone of the equipment we supply to festivals.

So what are the sustainable elements of this product?

Saved 182,500 kilograms of co2 emissions

Our plastic trackway is made from recycled (and recyclable) material. The plastic used to make the trackway is virgin plastic, off-cuts from the manufacture of drainage products, which would normally head into landfill. I won’t bore you with the full details of how the plates are made, but from figures given to me by our manufacturer, to dispose of unwanted plastic by burning it, produces around 1.2 kg in co2 emissions. Recycling plastic, however, costs just 0.55 in co2 emissions, therefore the production of one our standard road plates (3000x1000x20mm) saves 36.5 kg co2 emissions. We have made around 5000 road plates so far which means we have saved 182,500 kilograms of co2 emissions. Our factory has recently upgraded their machinery which means that two road plate panels can be manufactured simultaneously - this means that they can achieve a further reduction of approximately 25 - 35% in oil and gas usage.

Minimise our environmental impact

We consider environmental responsibility to be a cornerstone of good corporate citizenship. As an organisation we have consistently taken actions since our inception to minimise our environmental impact. This is exemplified by our decision to only supply sustainable plastic roadway products. Throughout a contract we will continue to champion sustainable practices to all clients, alongside taking actions to minimise the impact on each event.

We have identified four key environmental impacts which we will tackle to achieve continual improvement in these areas:

Waste - Our primary waste stream is damaged panels. Be it through miss-use or simply excess wear, individual panels will reach the end of their operative life and therefore need to be removed from use. We will control this waste stream using this approach:

Reduce: Our first goal is to maximise the operative life of each panel, with a target of ten years of consistent performance for every panel. This will be achieved by promoting best practice in their use. This means ensuring our team handle, install, and remove panels in a conscientious manner which does not lead to damage being incurred. It also means working with your on site teams to ensure everyone on site adheres to proper usage practices for the products. We are currently achieving an average panel operative life of seven years, and increasing this to ten years will have a significant impact on the amount of waste generated over the life of a contract.

Recycle: Our panels are all manufactured using secondary HMPE plastic. Once a panel is deemed unfit for further use it is stockpiled with other damaged panels at our depot. When a suitable volume has been compiled to allow for economic transport, the panels are shipped to a UK based plastic recycling firm where they are broken down and introduced into the manufacturing process as a constituent material. In this way we have achieved 'zero waste' in our primary waste stream.

 Just recently the same recycling firm told us that they had used material from our road plates to manufacture plastic household plant pots. So, this Sunday, when you are handing over your Mother’s Day plant, you could be handing her a little bit of GT Trax as well!

Water Usage - Given the nature of the sites these roadways are installed on, each panel can be subject to significant soiling even on short duration events. Each panel must be cleaned before it can be reissued to site to ensure performance, and this cleaning process can require a significant volume of water. Standard practice within the industry involves using industrial strength pressure washers to clean panels. This uses a significant volume of water per panel and (in our opinion) promotes inefficiency and wastage.

Ecological impact

Recognising the ecological impact of the volumes of water which were required to clean our panels, in 2009 we began investigating alternative solutions. We worked in collaboration with a local supplier of cleaning equipment to develop a bespoke automatic ground plate cleaning machine which operated using recycled rainwater. This system was based upon existing 'Rotawash' technology, but was refined to suit the exact characteristics of our road plates. The clean water supply is harnessed via a rainwater collector and the waste water is filtered through a series of filtration tanks. The filtered water is passed back into the system ready for the next batch of soiled ground protection plates. At full speed the system can clean up to one hundred 3-metre plates in just one hour.

Festivals generate a lot of mud

Without wanting to state the blindingly obvious, festivals generate a lot of mud and much of it remains on our road plates. To dispose of this we use an accredited waste disposal contractor that subsequently deposits the mud, legally, on nearby farmland. The consequence of this may be that in 100 years hence arachnologists could be coming up with all sorts of reasons of why mud from as far apart as Cornwall to the North of Scotland was deposited on Fenland ground, many years ago! This could makeup some interesting theories.

Reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen

And finally, we recognise that transport is a major contributor to carbon emissions. We are attempting to reduce our impact by reorganising our transport fleet into three distinct parts. We have small, medium and large vehicles. This means we will select the correct vehicle to deliver to site, the last thing we want to be to have part loaded vehicles.  In addition, we always use AdBlue with the diesel in our large HGV vehicles. AdBlue is used with the vehicle’s Selective Catalytic Reduction system (SCR), and helps to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen from the exhaust of the vehicles. Also, as our panels weigh only 18% of the average weight of a metal panel, we are able to use smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles to transport our products; or transport a significantly larger number of panels on the same vehicles as other firms. This means our panels can travel significantly farther for the same level of carbon emissions, making their introduction into an event further afield a sustainably viable option."

Read Chris Johnson's, (co-founder and Chair of Powerful Thinking, co-founder and Operations Director at Shambala Festival, and the Associate for Festivals and Events at Julie’s Bicycle) report - The Show Must Go On - click here

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