3 Innovative Ways Plastic Can be Recycled
Let’s remove the bad rap by creating more ways plastic can be recycled and repurposed into our everyday lives
Innovation is the word! The word to keep in mind for those of us who are connected to the world of plastics. Innovation in plastic production and recycling is a key factor for success in our industry and for sustainability.
We recognize and reference the fact that plastics regularly get a bad rap. But plastic can be recycled! We put it out there so that our customers and community know we are doing what we can to manage and improve the status of our industry products. Further, we believe transparency is vital for being transformative.
If you have been following us for any amount of time, you know we are proactive at both recycling and using in-house pelletizing machinery to re-incorporate our scrap back into our production processes. This is good for the bottom line and the environment.
On occasion we can even offer up using a blend of virgin and recycled material as the best way to manufacture a product for our customers and that’s always a good feeling for us.
Today, we want to show you a few other efforts being made around the world that demonstrate the capacity at which plastic can be recycled. A circular economy in which manufacturers design products to be reusable is necessary for sustainability. Innovation in plastics at its best can help humans give up the habit of carelessly sending waste out to landfills and to adopt the practices essential for a circular economy: reduce, reuse, recycle.
The first product we want to bring to your attention is one that has been utilized for some time: outdoor composite decking material. Trex is one brand name that you may recognize. We are fond of this product because of the durability and practicality…no more yearly staining the deck! Plus, it uses a blend that incorporates sandwich bags! How cool is that!
Shiniusa.com explains the product here:
Trex – This company has a focus on being eco-friendly as seen in their composite decks, which feature a blend of 95% recycled wood and plastic materials. Their plastic material comes from numerous sources, including paper towel wrappers, dry cleaner bags, sandwich bags, shopping bags, and newspaper sleeves. And each Trex deck contains 140,000 recycled plastic bags—that’s really impressive!
The second innovative product is a bit more of an astonishment…shoes! That’s right, footwear of all styles and colors! This process is changing the way we think of recycling…making very comfortable, durable kicks out of such things as recycled shopping bags and water bottles, proving that plastic can be recycled. We can’t wait until we start producing shoes here at Metro! Can you see it? A store-front right off the production facility with hot-off-the-press sneakers made from our scrap material? The Metro Kix Sneaker, Refuse Rugged Boots, and the Scrappy Sandal…oh, ok…yes…that may be a bit far-fetched but check out these brands of smart and trendy shoes compiled by Pebblemag.com.
Our third product application for utilizing recycled plastics in a remarkable way is using it for building materials; more specifically, plastic can be recycled for paving roads!
While different companies are pursuing different approaches, the general idea is that waste plastic is melted and mixed with other ingredients for making road asphalt. Ordinarily, asphalt is composed of 90 to 95 percent aggregate — whether gravel, sand, or limestone — and 5 to 10 percent bitumen, the black gooey substance extracted from crude oil that binds the aggregate together. When contractors add waste plastics — which can serve as an even stronger binding agent than bitumen — they often replace just 4 to 10 percent of the bitumen, though some methods call for much more. Plastic roads, therefore, are not solid ribbons of plastic — far from it.
Research suggests that “using waste plastic in road construction helps to improve substantially the stability, strength, fatigue life, and other desirable properties of bituminous mixes, leading to improved longevity and pavement performance,” Michael Burrow, an engineer at the University of Birmingham and senior author of a global study of the technology, said in an email. “Albeit, it may be too early for many of the reported applications to show premature failure.”
Paving roads with recycled plastic is both a seemingly obvious application to explore and a mind-blowing idea! We love it and hope to see it more widely spread. But, one of the reasons we may not see it applied as extensively as we hope is the following, per World GBC:
The problem is not plastic, the economics is the problem,” says Sibele Cestari, a researcher from Queen’s University, Belfast, who specialises [sic] in plastic materials.
“All plastic can be recycled or upcycled, but most isn’t because doing so remains unprofitable,” she explains.
Plastic is the perfect building material, says Cestari. “It is cheap [to convert into building materials], available and easy to mould.” The material is durable, waterproof and insulating, making it suitable for building in many different types of climate, [sic] she adds.
In a world heavily dependent on the bottom line, it’s no wonder that plastics receive minimal positive feedback as their economical contribution is slim. Afterall, in our personal lives, we buy the plastic version of a gadget, furniture, or item to save on cost. The reasoning for manufacturing plastics could also be the solution to recycling them. With Metro as your molder, you can be assured that innovation and origination will be a principal consideration down to the last environmental footprint.