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NDA Annual Report and Accounts 2021-2022 | case studies

On track to cut plastic pollution

Sue Trohear, Environmental Advisor at Nuclear Waste Services

Sue Trohear, Environmental Advisor at Nuclear Waste Services, explains how a road resurfacing project has helped meet the NDA group’s sustainability aims.

What work have you undertaken?

The perimeter road at our LLW Repository site in Cumbria needed to be resurfaced. We investigated options and found there was an opportunity to meet our requirements, while supporting the NDA group’s sustainability ambitions.

The decision was made to use a plastic additive in place of a proportion of the bitumen required. Bitumen is a sticky, semi-solid form of petroleum that’s often used in construction projects, such as making roads. The replacement additive is instead made from plastic that would otherwise have been destined for landfill. Taking this approach avoided 12,840kg of plastic material going to landfill.

Construction workers and machinery on road

How has this helped the environment?

The equivalent of almost 2.9 million plastic shopping bags has avoided going to landfill, while at the same time we’ve got a ‘plastic road’ that’s completely fit-for-purpose for our use.

Removing single use plastics from our lives is not an easy challenge, but even the smallest of changes add up and ultimately reduce the volume of plastic entering our oceans.

Plastic is present in all aspects of our lives and is used everywhere. This is because it’s useful and it’s good at its job, but now, it’s a pollution problem with millions of tonnes being washed into our oceans annually. When plastics enter our oceans, some will break down into micro-plastics that are ingested by wildlife and enter the food chain.

It has become clear that single use plastics are the main cause of the issue, with items such plastic bottles being purchased at a rate one million every minute.

We all need to play our part, so we’re delighted to have been able to make a small difference with this project.

How does it help contribute towards the delivery of the NDA group’s mission?

This year the NDA group launched its Sustainability Strategy. In it, group Chief Executive Officer David Peattie says: “In all our decisions and actions, we have a responsibility to think about the legacy we leave behind.”

This project gave us an opportunity to think differently about how we tackled a routine project to resurface a road. In doing so, we weren’t just innovative, but we helped contribute towards our sustainability goals by thinking differently and reusing material that otherwise would have no other use.

Hopefully this is the start of adopting a different approach and I’m sure a similar approach could be taken in other parts of the group.

Find out more: 

Read our Sustainability Strategy.

Keep to up to date with progress at the LLW Repository site on the Nuclear Waste Services website.