A REVOLUTIONARY van panel made of recycled plastic has been launched.
Panelplus, a lightweight panelling material said to be ideal for making commercial vehicle bodies, has been produced by the Government-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
Van rental company Northgate has joined the consortium run by WRAP to trial the new material on a Transit 350 Luton and MAN 8.155 Box.
Phil Moorhouse, Northgate's UK rental managing director, said one of its main advantages was significantly increased payload. Because of its weight saving, it also reduces fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, pollution and wear and tear to roads.
'Panelplus is lightweight, impact-resistant and totally watertight,' said Moorhouse.
'Because it offers a weight saving of up to 60% compared to equivalent GRP panels, it significantly reduces the overall weight of the truck, allowing more payload to be carried.
For example, on a 7.5-tonne truck the panel weight saving is over 240kg, which can mean operators saving one trip for every eight to 10 deliveries.'
The Panelplus panels can be bonded, bolted and welded in exactly the same way as a standard truck body. They can also be moulded into curved panels, decorated and coloured.
Peter Skelton, materials development manager (plastic) for WRAP, welcomed Northgate's involvement in the project.
He said: 'It will help the consortium to carry out the thorough testing required to establish the commercial viability of Panelplus.'