Metro Plastics Technologies, Inc. utilizes an in-house plastic extruder to battle crisis and preserve the health of the planet.
When someone thinks of the current environmental impact of the plastics industry, they probably think of the plastic soda rings in the ocean and the insurmountable piles of non-degradable mess. What if there was a way for plastic manufacturers to continue their production while also being mindful of their consequences on Earth? Metro Plastics has not only come face-to-face with the realization that their industry lacks environmental awareness but also that there is a need to act.
To accomplish the lofty goal of a zero ecological footprint, Metro took an inventory of areas where plastic potentially leaves the plant and enters into waterways. Their data collection found two main areas of concern; one proving that even the smallest amount of plastic can become a big issue. What they observed was that pellets on the production floor hitched a ride to the outside world via the soles of employees’ shoes! Once outside, these pellets could then find their way to storm and sewer passages, polluting the region’s waterways. The other issue that was identified was improper containment. One method to counteract the spread of further pollution has been Metro’s implementation of designated disposal barrels around the plant and stricter clean-up regimens on all shifts by all departments. It is an expectation that all press operators participate in removing plastic from the production floor to minimize the spread. They collect the plastic shavings in designated barrels with more controlled processes to be properly disposed.
Removing plastic from the production floor of a plastic injection molder is a daily, on-going responsibility, but it’s not the only area of concern within the plant. A majority of plastic scrap comes from the unused portions of a plastic part. Plastic pellets are heated up, pushed through a screw, enter the mold through a gate, and spread throughout the cavities in the mold before being released as a completed part. The area between the gate and actual part is called a runner. It is an unnecessary portion of the finished part and typically gets disposed of after production. But where does it go?
Instead of improperly disposing of runners and defective parts, Metro invested in a plastic extruder with an assigned team to man the reproduction of plastic pellets. The extrusion process takes reground plastic scrap (runners, defective parts) through another melting screw that pushes threads of plastic through a cooling chamber. Then, the cooled threads get blown dry and repelletized. Because not all plastic parts require virgin material, Metro Plastics can use the repelletized material in non-critical parts for customers.
In addition, as if companies didn’t have enough on their hands from the past year involving re-routing and re-organizing the structure of business, 2021 brought a whole new player to the game with the resin crisis. Several industries were impacted by the material shortage; many manufacturers have had to scramble to find material for their customers. Thankfully, with the addition of the plastic extruder, Metro Plastics outperformed its competitors by sustaining material for its jobs. The benefits of the mindful act of repellatizing our waste may have saved us in more ways than one.