The UK manufacturer Mantec Technical Ceramics has taken great strides forward in terms of environmental impact, with the announcement that three of its energy-saving ranges have now been officially classified as Carbon Neutral Products, as certified by the leading international validation body, ClimatePartner.
Image Credit: Mantec Technical Ceramics
The refractory products involved are Ultralite free-flowing loose-fill media – non-hazardous, inert, thermally efficient insulation materials most commonly used in cars in tunnel kilns. Ultralite is produced at Mantec’s facility in Stoke-on-Trent, UK, using a special, proprietary process.
Sales director Mark Berrisford said: “We have been working closely with ClimatePartner for quite some time and I’m proud to announce that Ultralite ULF 10, 12, and 14 are now classified as Carbon Neutral Products. We are passionate about reducing our global footprint and this initiative, achieved by comprehensive emissions analysis and then offsetting, is just the first step towards the ultimate goal of Net-Zero. To the best of my knowledge, we are the first UK precision ceramics/refractories manufacturer to attain Carbon Neutral certification.”
ClimatePartner operates with a multi-national team and explains that carbon neutrality means that the carbon footprint of a company’s product has been calculated on the basis of internationally recognized standards and fully offset by supporting global climate action projects.
The certification that is issued after thorough analysis relies on what is referred to as ‘system boundaries’. System boundaries indicate which life cycle stages of a product have been made carbon neutral. The following sections were taken into account for Ultralite:
• Material acquisition and pre-processing
• Distribution (to the initial customer)
Each carbon offset – such as that now established by Mantec – has its own unique ID number. This, together with associated web links, now features on Ultralite packaging, meaning users can read about CO2 emissions associated with the products, the reduction initiatives in place, and the carbon offset projects supported. In Mantec’s case, this involves investment in an exciting afforestation program in Rio Kama in eastern Nicaragua. Already, a million plants of a native species of giant clumping bamboo have been planted.
In contrast to cutting trees, harvesting this bamboo does not kill the plant. Once fully mature, selective poles are harvested from each clump, leaving enough time for other poles to regenerate. Thus the carbon stored within the bamboo becomes a permanent sink, with the clumps having a lifetime of 80 years. The bamboo from the plantations forms the base for a broad range of sustainable, deforestation-free products such as fibers or building materials.
The wider efforts being made by Mantec in terms of improving environmental sustainability and performance are aided in this case by some of the principal characteristics of the Ultralite material. It contains no refractory ceramic fibres (RCFs) and so is safe and easy to handle. It is also stable at high temperatures (up to 1450°C/2640°F in the case of ULF 14) and does not degrade in use, therefore meaning that it can be reused time and again, for instance after kiln car repairs and maintenance have taken place.
When it does reach the end of its useful life – and, impressively, this can be as long as 10 years in certain circumstances – because Ultralite is not classified as a hazardous waste, it can be safely disposed of to landfill.
“There is a virtuous circle being established here,” added Mark, “as this carbon neutral certification process improves our own environmental credentials, while at the same time contributing to similar efforts being made by our customers. Additionally, Ultralite itself can bring energy savings of up to 40% in kiln car bases, further contributing to the ceramic industry’s reduced carbon footprint.”