Most fire extinguishers in Norway are scrapped after use or when they pass their use by date. The Lier-based company Miljø Norge wanted to do something about this. Its solution could create jobs and contribute to a major cut in CO2 emissions, and it has now received a NOK 26 million environmental technology grant from Innovation Norway.
“The grant is intended to ensure that fewer fire extinguishers are thrown away and the environmental impact of would be enormous. We were very pleased to get the grant from Innovation Norway," says Nils Aulie, CEO at Miljø Norge.
Huge environmental problem
There are estimated to be more than ten million fire extinguishers in Norway. Around one million of them need servicing or replacing every year. By reusing fire extinguishers in Norway the company wants to reduce the need for imports and thereby signiﬁcantly reduce total CO2 emissions. There would be less transport and less extraction of raw materials. It currently takes 4kg of steel to produce a new fire extinguisher.
“Recertifying fire extinguishers is a good example of how circular solutions can reduce the need to consume resources," says Ann-Mari Skinne, special adviser for Innovation Norway Oslo og Viken.
“Establishing an automated production line for recertifying fire extinguishers is new. The transition to a circular business model requires innovation at many levels,” she says.
Circular business model
The company has designed a circular business model in which fire extinguishers past their use by date come in for servicing and are then returned to the customer as good as new. The servicing involves emptying the fire extinguisher, inspecting it, refilling it, and repressurising it.
Automation and digitalisation have enabled the company to develop a production line that ensures both consistently high quality and high production volumes. A single reused fire extinguisher represents an environmental saving of 38kg of CO2. Over time, this is expected to create up to 60 new jobs at the plant in Lier.
By collaborating with several players in the value chain such as waste recipients, the retail trade, building supply chains, fire prevention players, distributors, and more, the company hopes to simplify the return and procurement process for customers.
The market potential with respect to businesses, public buildings, infrastructure, and property development is huge, and the company has a clearly defined objective of solving a current problem and offering circular alternatives.
“We are talking to a number of major players that could set a new standard for their industry. The response so far has been unequivocally positive, and this confirms that this is a long-sought-after solution," says Aulie.
Grant for environmental technology
The NOK 26 million grant it has received from Innovation Norway will be invested in the production line and starting new work processes on the company’s premises in Lier outside Drammen.
“Innovation Norway has given the project money to reduce the company’s risk and improve its execution capacity. We are good at collecting in Norway, but we need more good examples of solutions high up in the waste hierarchy,” says special adviser Skinne.
“We want to make it easy for customers to make sustainable choices when they replace or purchase new fire extinguishers. The grant from Innovation Norway will allow us to build a production line that ensures that the proportion of fire extinguishers that are reused substantially increases,” says Aulie.