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The Environment

Axter's carbon footprint and environmental policy

Axter is part of the Bouygues Group which has adopted the United Nations Global Compact including a commitment to environmental protection. Bouygues and its subsidiaries are committed to a proactive sustainable development approach in all areas or activity.

ISO 14001

Axter's bituminous waterproofing membrane factory is now audited to the ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Standard. EMS provides a systematic way of managing the organisation's environmental affairs enabling Axter to address the immediate and long-term impacts of its products, services and processes on the environment. By constantly reviewing and revising the system the procedure focuses on continual improvevment. Download the ISO 14001 certificate here.

A natural derivative of petroleum

Although bitumen exists naturally at the site of old oil deposits - Lake Trinidad in the West Indies and the tar tunnel at Ironbridge, Shropshire are well known examples - its current form, as used in the manufacture of bituminous membranes, comes from the industrial refining of crude oil. It is extracted by a simple distillation process generating very little CO2, requires no heavy chemical transformation and consumes low levels of energy resources.

Given the non-volatility of bitumen at ambient temperatures, bituminous membranes constitute a sustainable way of storing carbon on the earth's surface emitting very little CO2.

A material that respects man and the environment

Bitumen is a hydrocarbon which is not used for combustion but which is developed as a construction material that generates no greenhouse gases. The other constituents of bituminous membranes (fillers, polymers, sand, slates etc) are inert with a very low chemical reaction: they pose no danger to man or nature. They do not release any organic or volatile compounds or give off any toxic or mutagenic gases harmful to health.

A material with ideal properties

The principal task of bituminous waterproofing systems is to protect buildings from the elements. With excellent bonding qualities, bitumen does not absorb water and is resistant to structural movement. It retains its properties over a long period of time thus making a contribution to the long life of buildings.

In addition to the waterproofing of buildings bitumen is the ideal material for all kinds of water storage (reservoirs, polluted water, irrigation systems) as it is insoluble in water and non- biodegradable

Environmental impact of Axter materials

To investigate the carbon footprint and environmental impact of Axter's materials the company combined with other leading manufacturers, under the auspices of the CSFE (Chambre Syndicale Française de l'Etanchéité), commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)-Ecobilan to carry out an in-depth study of the manufacturing processes and to produce environmental health statements for a number of their roofing systems.  The CSFE report is available from Axter Ltd or as a download.

Axter's production facility at Courchelettes, Douai, France has recently received a £10 million re-fit, including the installation of new machinery and no expense has been spared to reduce the impact on the local environment of the company's activities.  During this process Axter has been able to open up access to a canal side walk much to the benefit of local inhabitants. In addition on-site bituminous waste is recycled by a sister company and used in road construction.

Modern materials used in the construction of low slope roofing can be considered totally rot proof but any waterproofing membrane exposed to the elements will eventually suffer from some kind of ageing. The specially manufactured polymers included in the product mix give Axter materials exceptional characteristics with regard to ageing but even they will require some kind of remedial maintenance at some stage in their lives.  There is no reason why a carefully maintained Axter roof should not last for at least 60 years before a major refurbishment is necessary.  Even then a simple overlay will often suffice to give the roof many further years of useful service.  If eventually the roof needs to be stripped and replaced then the waterproofing membranes can be recycled and converted into usable heat in specialist heat recovery systems.

Further information including detailed environmental assessments of different specifications is available from Axter.

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