Lecico commits to water conservation and reused materials

The Propelair toilet claims a 66% reduction in water use

Lecico Bathrooms has underlined its commitment to encouraging sustainability in both its customers and its supply chain as it unveiled two partnerships which will reduce carbon and conserve water respectively.

The Bedford-based firm introduced its partnerships with water-saving toilet manufacturer Propelair and recycled materials specialist Repeat Materials at a launch event, which included a debate called The Future of Sustainable Bathrooms.

At the debate, Tom Reynolds, chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association called on the industry to work together to help reduce the predicted water shortfall of at least 4 million litres a day by 2025

Fellow panellist, Lecico managing director Antony Thompson, conceded it was a challenge for all bathroom manufacturers to pursue sustainability. He said:

It is certainly a commercial challenge, because at the moment nobody wants to pay more for low-carbon products…Product innovation is one thing, but what we really need to change is behaviour.

The panellists agreed that the bathroom industry could play a significant part in water conservation, and that part of its role was educating consumers and the national media that there are often more ways effective to save water than stopping hosepipe use.

Antony said that working closely with retailers was an important step:

We have got to do more to make the retailer to help the consumer make better choices. Too often, the sustainable products are tucked away in a corner.

He added that manufacturers also needed to collaborate closely with the installer community to embed more sustainable products:

The installer naturally is going to opt for what they can fit in the timeframe, so it is down to us to communicate. We need to do a better job of educating downstream about the sustainability of products – and the reality that they will probably pay more for them.

Tom Reynolds agreed:

Sustainability has to be part of the installation discussion, going forwards…The installer wields enormous influence and this can apply to sustainability.

Tom also stressed the importance of carbon reduction in an industry which often depended on electricity. He said: “I am an advocate for the national retrofit strategy, because we need the grid to be decarbonised.”

The emphasis on a holistic approach to carbon and water efficiency throughout the supply chain was endorsed by fellow panellist Lee Jones, Head of Sustainability at construction data specialist Byggfakta Group. He said:

Water needs the same as carbon reduction in the built environment. We need to remember that construction relies on concrete and steel which both have massive water consumption.

He noted that from 2025, larger companies will be obliged to publish sustainability reports as part of their annual financial reporting.

The discussions also tackled subjects such as whether there should be mandatory flow rates – the consensus was that the government can’t mandate this without infrastructure change – and the appropriateness of the fittings-based approach to water consumption in Part G of the building regs. Tom Reynolds was forceful in his response:

The BMA argues strongly against a fittings-based approach rather than an overall water efficiency approach… The concern is that it will stifle product innovation.

There was also agreement from the panellists that there needs to be more emphasis on the Water Label, both at manufacturer and retail level, to help consumers and specifiers with decision making.

Tom summed up the mood of the discussion with his conclusion

As manufacturers, we need to make sustainability the default across the range of products.

Sustainable Products

Lecico demonstrated its new Design range of sanitaryware and bathroom furniture at the event, manufactured at its factory complexes in Alexandria, Egypt  Alongside these low-flush designs, the firm underlined its partnership with Propelair, which produces what is claimed to be the world’s lowest water flush WC.

The Propelair has been turning heads aongst specifiers of commercial bathrooms thanks to its compressed air flushing technology which removes contaminants – slashing the water consumption from the conventional 4 litres per flush to just 1.5 litres. The company has calculated that 90% of water waste in commercial buildings occurs in the washroom – 48% in the toilets – so the Propelair WC can wreak significant savings. The water consumption saving can be up to 84%, Lecico says, based on its water metering.

Jason Beyers, head of commercial specification and Propelair, said

In these days of water shortages, to be flushing a toilet with so much potable water is bordering on criminal…we believe that we offer a bespoke business case, saving water and removing odour and airborne germs as well…It is also the highest performing toilet under the BREEAM water efficiency guidelines.

Lecico also unveiled its partnership with Repeat Materials. This will see a range of recycled shower trays and showerwalls containing at least 75% recycled content. The concept comprises a decorative PET film surface, and two 3mm solid layers containing 50% PET sandwiching a foam core of varying thickness of 5-200mm.

The material can be specified with a wide range of films and manufactured offsite in modular panels, ready to be plumbed in within 6 hours. The key sustainability benefits are that it is a clickable fit, requiring no sealant, and that the material itself can be recycled and reused up to seven times.