Certain environments rely on single-use disposable shoe covers to help mitigate the tracking of mud, gunk, and hazardous materials from the work floor to other areas of your worksite, or even back home. Depending on the application, a more robust kind of shoe or boot cover can be more appropriate to not only get the job done – but to save time and money, reduce waste, and increase sustainability.
The BAM Nuttall, Morgan Sindall, and Balfour Beatty joint venture is working on the ThamesTideway Tunnel project, which looks to update the 7km west section of a 150-year-old sewer system that was sending millions of tons of raw sewage spills, untreated, into the River Thames each year. This feat includes building a Super Sewer to intercept spills and clean up the river. At 25 kilometers long, the project is the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the UK water industry.
Once completed, Thames Water will operate the tunnel as an integral part of the London sewerage network, while Tideway will be responsible for its day-to-day maintenance. Thames Water is the UK’s largest water and wastewater services company, supplying around 2.6 million liters of tap water to nine million customers across London and the Thames Valley every day. It also removes and treats more than four billion liters of sewage for 15 million customers.
Workers were required to wear shoe covers to help keep designated shared areas clean and were given disposable covers to comply with worksite rules. As construction began on the new tunnel, engineers on site were complaining that the single-use disposable shoe covers they had to wear were not effective. Not only were they tearing during the workday, but discarded covers were also causing poor housekeeping on-site by continually being blown out of the rubbish bins.
Wanting to ensure the workforce stayed safe and demonstrated waste avoidance, action was taken to find a cost-effective solution.
After receiving this feedback, the joint venture environmental team explored alternative solutions to using disposable shoe covers – and discovered YULEYS®, sold by HexArmor®. YULEYS® are reusable work boot and shoe covers that can be easily slipped into and reused while providing greater traction and protecting floors and walls. Made of solid rubber construction, YULEYS® come in several sizes and are easy to clean and dry quickly.
Some sites on this project ordered each YULEY® size in a different color to make identification easier when multiple pairs were stored in one area and shared by end-users. Cleaning stations were set up that were easy to use. Once implemented on the site, the site manager found immediate benefits:
- Reduction of single-use plastic and waste
- Better protection from contaminating carpets
- Reduced carpet cleaning fees
- Cleanliness of designated shared areas
YULEYS® have been introduced at three of the 24 Tideway sites to reduce/replace the number of single-use plastic boot covers, and no additional single-use boot covers have been ordered at any of the three sites since their introduction. Employees like YULEYS® because they are comfortable and effective at keeping desired areas clean. Feedback has been positive and as a result YULEYS® are being worn and used every day. No issues around incorrect sizing have been recorded.
Reduction of plastic waste:
Approximately 50-90kg of plastic landfill waste was prevented over 10 months across sites. Because of this success, the parent company would like to better understand how other project sites are monitoring their plastic waste, as some sites don’t have requirements for any disposable shoe covers.
Moving forward, the parent companies are looking at the possibility to replace disposable shoe covers with YULEYS® across other construction sites.
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