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Plastic waste finds home in buildings.

The building and construction industry may increasingly provide homes not just for people but also for recycled plastic waste. At January's National Association of Home Builders show in Las Vegas, two manufacturers exhibited new construction materials composed partly of post-consumer and industrial reclaim. Another company, while not at the show, recently began to market a roof shingle made from reclaimed computer housings.


"Moistureshield" wood composites from Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. (A.E.R.T.) of Rogers, Ark., combine reclaimed polyethylene from a variety of sources with waste cedar fibers left over from fragrance manufacturing (see PT, June '91, p. 184). A.E.R.T. uses varying proportions and varieties of industrial and post-consumer PE for the plastic matrix of this high-grade lumber substitute. The first, and so far only, user is Peachtree Doors Inc. of Norcross, Ga., which employs the material in its exterior door subsills and rails--areas where plastic adds desirable moisture resistance and dimensional stability.

Developed in cooperation with Dow Plastics of Midland, Mich., the Moistureshield product used by Peachtree has roughly 55% cedar content. The rest comes from a proprietary blend of LDPE that A.E.R.T. separates from coated-paper milk cartons and post-consumer HDPE from grocery sacks and milk jugs.

A.E.R.T. can "engineer" the blend of wood fiber and PE for specific applications, according to president Joe Brooks. He says the wood component could run as high as 60% for some uses. A.E.R.T. makes Moistureshield with a patented extrusion process that couples low shear rates with a high degree of wood-fiber encapsulation. Together, Brooks explains, these features help reduce thermal degradation and eliminate auto-ignition of the wood fibers during extrusion. The company boasts production rates around 3000 lb/hr. Brooks attributes this high speed to the elimination of a mold to hold the profile's shape during cooling. To replace the molding step, A.E.R.T. has come up with a patented rolling and cooling system to hold the product's shape.

Expansion plans call for two more lines by the end of the year, which would boost Moistureshield production up to 30 million lb annually.


Amoco Foam Products Co. of Atlanta has come up with a new twist on an old material. The company has started to market a polystyrene foam insulation board made from Amofoam-Rcy, a recycled PS resin with a guaranteed reclaim content of at least 50%.

Business manager Peter Sullivan says Amofoam-Rcy has "significant amounts" of reclaim from both the post-consumer and industrial waste streams. He adds that Amoco doesn't know the exact proportion of each type because it purchases the reclaim from a number of suppliers. "But all the material would have gone to the landfill," he says.

Sullivan attributes the new resin to the development of a proprietary test procedure that allows the company to screen the reclaim before processing.

From a physical property standpoint, the only tradeoff from using reclaim has been in compression strength of the insulation board, which Sullivan says has dropped from about 40 psi for virgin board down to 30 psi in the recycled grade. He notes the new board still exceeds the ASTM standard of 25 psi.

Amofoam-Rcy carries a price premium of roughly 2|cents~/lb. But Amoco believes that legislative incentives favoring recycled materials will eventually offset that differential. In the meantime, the material still represents "an answer to the recycling problem" for foam products, according to Sullivan.

Dow, too, has developed a recycled version of its Styrofoam PS insulation board, but so far has not sold it commercially.


Though it was not at the builder's show, Nailite Corp. of Miami recently began selling a new PPE-alloy roof panel containing 52% recycled Noryl resin from GE Plastics of Pittsfield, Mass. The panels are the product of a cooperative effort between GE, Nailite and Digital Equipment Corp. with the latter company supplying scrapped computer terminal housings from its manufacturing operations.

The first commercial installation of the injection molded panels took place last summer at a new McDonald's restaurant in Pittsfield, Mass. And since Nailite started test marketing the panels on the West Coast six months ago, they have been installed on more than 40 commercial and residential buildings.
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Title Annotation:wood composites use reclaimed polyethylene
Author:Ogando, Joseph
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Previous Article:'No-hands' resin quality control.
Next Article:Syndiotactic PP is now for real.

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