Energy Management in Plastics Processing - Part 3
Capital Equipment Selection




A series of energy efficiency worksheets by Dr. Robin Kent for the Carbon Trust to help the plastics industry reduce costs through efficient use of energy.

UK Government Environment and Energy Helpline 0800 585 794

Capital equipment selection: changing the rules

Many people think that energy efficiency is simply about turning out lights and turning down the heating. Though partially true, it is not the whole story. Energy efficiency is also about using cost-effective technology to permanently reduce a company's energy consumption. For example, changing the behaviour of people to turn out lights requires them to be motivated and constantly encouraged. Changing the light switch for a passive infrared (PIR) detector is quick, low cost and effectively permanent. In many cases, it is easier to change the rules than to change the people.

This is even more critical when selecting capital equipment for plastics processing. It is easier and cheaper to specify and purchase energy efficient equipment at the start than to pay continuously for the energy it uses and to then try to upgrade the equipment later. Purchasing energy efficient capital equipment is the simplest and easiest way to permanently improve a company's overall energy efficiency and reduce its energy costs.

Purchasing energy efficient capital equipment will permanently change the energy efficiency of a company.

The cost of the energy used during its lifetime will be more than the initial cost of virtually any capital equipment. It will be even more for machines that are not energy efficient. Energy efficient machines save money in the long term - an important factor when customers are beginning to expect price decreases through the lifetime of a product.

As with any capital equipment, the initial purchase cost should not dominate the decision-making process. The 'whole life' cost of the equipment (initial cost + operating costs) is the important cost for any plastics processor who wants to continue operating in the long term.

The cost of energy used during a machine's life will often exceed its initial purchase cost. Energy efficient machines and controls may cost more at the start, but they cost less in the long term.

Typical projects

Plastics processors can save money in all areas of their operations by investing in energy efficiency. The diagram below shows where energy is used in plastics processing.

Opportunities for energy savings through investment are everywhere. Technology makes it possible to re-equip a factory for lower operating costs.

Potential areas for investment to reduce energy use and costs include:

These are all projects where current technology has proven energy saving benefits. Typical projects have paybacks ranging from under 4 years and often as low as 9 months.

Free advice and help from the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust provides free resources for energy management, cost reduction and carbon savings in plastics processing. These range from detailed information on energy efficient plastics processing to free site visits to identify opportunities for energy and carbon savings through improved management or investment. To find out more, call the Helpline on 0800 58 57 94 or visit the Carbon Trust Energy website (

Financial assistance

Energy-Efficiency Loans from the Carbon Trust

Once suitable projects have been identified, Energy Efficiency Loans from the Carbon Trust can provide small and medium sized businesses with interest-free loans to help them to re-equip to reduce energy use, to lower operating costs and to make them more competitive.

Contact the Helpline on 0800 58 57 94 for details of how to borrow money to fund the purchase of energy efficient capital equipment and avoid locking increased costs into the company for the equipment's lifetime. Alternatively, visit

Enhanced Capital Allowances

Purchase of equipment on the Energy Technology List may also qualify for an Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA), a tax relief permitting businesses to deduct 100% of capital expenditure against their taxable profits in the first year. For more information, visit

"Energy Management" Series.

The "Energy Management" series is designed to give plastics processors an insight into how to manage a valuable resource.

Download the complete series as an Adobe Acrobat file.


Last edited: 11/03/10  

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