You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t heard of a circular economy, but it won’t be through the lack of our shouting about it. For those of you still in the dark, a circular economy is one whereby the material, products or goods that are currently in circulation are kept in use for longer, either through reuse, repurpose or recycling. Nobody wants to see anything put to waste these days, and rightly so. Take our domestic bins for example; we used to throw all household waste out in the same bin and not think twice about it. But now, we have one bin for recyclable materials, one bin for food recycling and maybe even another bin for garden waste, as well as the general waste bin we throw everything else into.

If we take such good care of separating these items out so they can be handled appropriately, are we doing the same with our industrial sized waste materials?

The answer is, we are. Or at least, John Lawrie is. Our concern, however, is just how much value is being placed on those final steps in the decommissioning process. Once the structure has come onshore, is that the last thought anyone gives to it? We think it is vitally important that our customers understand the importance of managing this sort of waste effectively, efficiently and ethically, and knowing exactly where the material will end up.

John Lawrie’s expertise lies in the dismantling of large oilfield, subsea and industrial infrastructure having been carrying out such work for more than 20 years. Dismantling these structures is one step in the process, the second is what to do with it once it has been dismantled.  

Our primary objective is to maximise reuse, repurpose and recycling so that we can minimise disposal. Our aim is zero to landfill and so, to this end, our processing methods result in high recovery and recycling rates for a wide range of materials, in many cases up to 100%.

Our first response to managing the dismantling of these sorts of structures is what can be reused – can any part of the material be reused for the same purpose again. The likelihood in these sorts of scenarios is no, but it is always our first thought.

The second thing we consider is, can any of this material be repurposed for a different use. For example, we supply redundant anchor chain or wire rope from decommissioning projects to the European aquaculture industry for use as weights and ballasts for fish pens.

Our main repurposing, however, is that of pulled steel tubulars. Once these pipes are no longer required by our operator and tier 1 clients, we guarantee to purchase them in any quantity and from any global location, bringing them into our yards for cleaning and processing and then supply them to the UK and European construction and civil engineering industries as an alternative to concrete piles.

And for those pipes that we receive that are not fit for repurpose, we have the facilities to process the material ready for recycling to be made into new products. We handle around 200,000 tonnes of waste metal every year which is sorted and sheared ready to be recycled into new steel products. By shipping our processed scrap direct to European steel mills for smelting, we provide an end-to-end closed loop service in accordance with client and regulatory requirements.

It’s a win, win. Our oil and gas clients get the assurance of safe and ethical onshore management of their waste metal and redundant steel tubulars from quayside to repurpose or recycling, and our piling clients get a quick supply of the size and length of steel tubulars they require for their construction projects. And having carried out a bespoke life cycle analysis (LCA) in 2020, we can now show that for every tonne of repurposed steel produced by John Lawrie, there is a saving of over 97% CO2e compared to the production of new prime steel products.

Our message is simple, if you work with John Lawrie, we provide the assurance that your waste metal is managed efficiently, ethically and responsibly with the material always going straight to the end user. We ensure reuse or repurpose wherever possible, or if that’s not a viable option we process the material ready for recycling, shipping it directly to European steel mills to be smelted and made into new products.

Published in OGV Energy, October 2020