Environmental Aspects of Glassflake

21st October 2019

Production of glassflake is an energy intensive process, so how does Glassflake Ltd make a positive impact on the global environment? This article aims to set out how Glassflake contributes to a long term reduction in resources, replaces more environmentally damaging materials and how the business continues to make environmental policy at the core of its innovation.

Since the first industrial uses of glassflake, the core benefits have revolved around durability of materials. Whether this was in construction plastics or heavy duty coatings, the use of glassflake has led to lengthened life spans for these materials. The same is also true of many structures protected by glassflake materials, such as steel protected by glassflake based anti-corrosive coatings. In any situation where there is a reduction in construction or repair resources expended on damaged or worn materials, less energy and natural materials are wasted. While historically, many steel structures would become weakened by corrosion with 10 years, glassflake coatings now expand the lifespan into many decades, drastically reducing the demand for energy intensive steel consumption.

Glassflake is considered a highly viable alternative to one of the most damaging materials to marine life: microplastics. Microplastics are deemed any plastics smaller than 5mm in size. A common source of these particles is the use of resin based glitters and effect pigments. These are used in a variety of end applications from plastic packaging to cosmetics and personal care. Many of these microplastic particles will find their way to the waterways and oceans, entering the food cycle when ingested by marine life. Glassflake can replace many of these plastic substrates used in the effect pigments market, with no change to the visual effect achieved. While the risk remains of these glass based particles entering the water system, there is no onward hazard. The glass is inert, meaning it will not breakdown to harmful substances at small sizes when ingested. In fact as the glassflake is amorphous it is less harmful than sand in the environment.

In addition to the benefits of glassflake materials in their end applications, the business is also conscious of the energy required to produce glassflake materials. Glassflake uses an electricity based technology to melt glass, removing much the air contaminants produced on purely gas powered technology associated with traditional glass production. Our R&D engineers have developed new melt technologies significantly reducing the power demands of the manufacturing process. The business is also aware of the source of the electricity used to power the plant, uses our own solar photo-voltaic panels, to generate on-site electricity in a renewable way.

In addition to the energy required to melt our glass, the company also has a focus on sustainable sourcing of our raw materials. We are able to achieve this by working closely with supply partners based in the EU and regular updates from them on accreditation and certifications. This focus on working closely with our supply chain affords greater sourcing responsibility as well as corporate stability. More detail on this can be found in our Responsible Sourcing statement here.

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