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Recycling ventures proliferate.

Recyling Ventures Proliferate

Just two months old, 1990 has already seen numerous proposals to build new recycling plants, and efforts to develop innovative methods for converting used material into fresh products are emerging with increased frequency. Here's a roundup of the latest headlines.

DEGRADABLE CAN BE

RECYCLABLE

A Canadian reprocessing company that says it is the first North American recycler to develop a successful method for recycling starch-filled plastic scrap from diaper and garbage-bag manufacturers hopes to begin recycling the film scrap this month, a company spokesman said.

Resource Plastics Corp. (RP), Brantford, Ontario, expects to have capacity to recycle 6 million lb of film scrap annually with the intent to eventually reclaim 30 million lb/yr, according to company spokesman Barry Wood. RP will obtain the material from manufacturers, then separate, clean and repelletize it for resale at a fraction of the cost of purchasing virgin material, Wood said.

Although Wood declined to comment on the exact workings of the technology, he says it is a dry process, which eliminates the moisture problem associated with conventional reprocessing technologies. Normally, reprocessing efforts involve dousing the materials with water to cool melted plastic before it is repelletized and re-extruded. But starch absorbs moisture and wet pellets can not be processed, Wood said.

ANOTHER RESIN GIANT WEIGHS IN

Union Carbide Chemicals and Plastics Co. Inc., Danbury, Conn., has joined the recycling race with a new venture of its Polyolefins Div. to recycle more than 40 million lb/yr of industrial, commercial and consumer waste into reusable pellets. Carbide's first Plastics Recycling Center is being established in an existing 60,000-sq-ft building at the firm's technical and manufacturing complex in Piscataway, N.J., and is expected to open in the first quarter of 1991. The venture will be distinctive in that it will reclaim both rigid plastic containers (mainly bottles) and flexible film. It will accept baled plastic waste that has been separated from other materials and will repelletize HDPE, LDPE, PP and PET. PS and PVC waste will be separated and sold to other reprocessors; they will not be further processed at this plant.

Carbide spokesmen would not identify the technology used, saying it is based on a worldwide examination of available know-how. They said only that the baled plastics will be granulated and then cleaned via "wet process" to separate glue, paper and other contaminants. The resins then will be separated from one another (the technology reportedly can separate LDPE from HDPE and both from PP) and repelletized. One processing line will be designed to handle 25 million lb/yr of bottles and other rigids, and a second 15-million-lb/yr line will handle films and bags. The latter is expected to consist mainly of pallet stretch wrap and furniture and upholstery wrap from local warehouses and businesses.

Carbide plans to sell the recycled materials as grades with a defined specification range, under a new trade name yet to be determined.

ANOTHER VENTURE FIRMS

PLANS

When the Du Pont Co., Wilmington Del., and Waste Management Inc., Oak Brook, Ill., agreed last April to form the Plastics Recycling Alliance, a joint venture for reprocessing plastic waste, officials at both companies hoped to eventually operate a network of recycling plants across the United States. Now, less than a year later, the first of those facilities is about to become a reality and a location for a second plant has been chosen.

The venture's first plant is slated to open later this month at an existing 100,000-sq-ft facility in Philadelphia. It will clean, separate and recycle about 40 million lb/yr of plastics from post-consumer trash. PET recovery will be the initial thrust, but other plastics, such as HDPE, will probably follow. Within a year, the plant should also be handling multilayer packaging, the spokesmen said.

The second plant is planned for Chicago. Although no target date has been set for its opening, spokesmen say they hope to recycle another 40 million lb/yr at the plant, again concentrating on PET and HDPE.

By 1994, DuPont and WMI hope to reach their goal of recycling 200 million lb/yr from at least five plants. Spokesmen say by the end of 1990 a site will probably be selected on the West Coast.

WMI will provide the plants with plastics from the curbside collection program it operates in various regions of the country. Du Pont will modify and upgrade the recycled plastics for a broad range of applications in the automotive, consumer and building industries.

AS GOOD AS WOOD

Plastics-coated paper milk-carton stock, not normally considered worth recycling, has generally ended up in landfills. But an Arkansas-based recycler hopes to change that. Advanced Environmental Recycling Technology Inc. (A.E.R.T.), Springdale, Ark., is planning to build a $5-million, 12-million-lb/yr pilot plant in Rogers, Ark. that will recycle the plastic-coated paper. It will produce LDPE pellets containing at most 5% paper as filler, and reclaimed paper, which will be sold to other recyclers.

The plastic pellets, however, will be sent to the company's Junction, Texas, plant where three special compounding and extrusion lines will combine the plastic with waste cedar wood fibers to produce what executive v.p. J. Douglas Brooks says is a high-grade lumber substitute that can compete with high-end, clear grades of wood lumber. Brooks says A.E.R.T.'s RT-1 technology (patent applied for) is capable of high rates of extrusion of its "Bioplaste" profiles--e.g., 2500-3000 lb/hr--for use in door and window frames.

A.E.R.T. is working with municipalities and the state of Arkansas to investigate the possibility of collecting HDPE milk jugs and detergent bottles for its process. The company is focusing on utilizing relatively pure PE waste, rather than commingled plastics. The firm is also investigating compatibilizer technologies for achieving a stronger bond between the wood fibers and plastic to improve strength of the product. Eventually, A.E.R.T. may consider licensing its process to others, Brooks says.

A new player joining the plastic lumber game is Polymerix Inc. in Lincoln Park, N.J., headed by Dr. Wolfgang Mack, formerly president of Werner & Pfleiderer Corp. Using a proprietary process, Polymerix is producing a synthetic lumber called TriMax from commingled consumer and industrial plastics waste.

Polymerix says it has solved many of the problems traditionally associated with recycling a variety of resins into a single product. The company uses what it calls "low-cost compatibilizers" to bind the mixed resins together. Reinforcing fibers and special fillers and surface treatments reportedly give the plastic lumber higher tensile and flex strength than are usually exhibited by commingled plastics, and eliminate the slipperiness associated with many synthetic woods. Structural foaming techniques have been developed to make products lightweight when desired. Trimax is also paintable, according to the company.

Polymerix is willing to consider licensing or joint ventures with other firms.
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Article Details
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Author:Monks, Richard
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Mar 1, 1990
Words:1142
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