GreenMantra Technologies (Brantford, Ontario) and Sun Chemical Corp. (Parsippany, N.J.) are working to develop polymers from recycled polystyrene scrap designed for use in specialty ink formulations. A pilot plant at GreenMantra’s manufacturing complex with a capacity to produce 1,000 mt a year of converted material will test and pursue initial commercial sales of the new materials for use in inks and other products as a replacement for fossil fuel-based materials, it says. Visit www.greenmantra.ca or www.sunchemical.com.
* Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics (Midland, Mich.) and industry partners in the Trash Free Seas Alliance have developed a trash bag made from postindustrial scrap plastic. Bemis Co. (Neenah, Wis.), a supplier of flexible and rigid plastic packaging, collects the postindustrial plastic scraps; converter Polykar (Saint-Laurent, Quebec) processes the reclaimed plastics using Dow’s RETAIN technology and uses the resulting resin to manufacture the bags. Visit www.dow-dupont.com, www.trashfreeseas.org, www.bemis.com, or www.polykar.com.
Researchers Use Recycled Plastic to Strengthen Concrete
A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students has found a way to fortify cement using recycled plastic bottles. The students exposed plastic flake to small, harmless doses of gamma radiation, then they pulverized it and mixed it with cement paste and fly ash. The resulting concrete was 15 percent stronger than conventional concrete, according to MIT. Irradiating the plastic changes its crystalline structure, making it—and the resulting concrete—stronger, stiffer, and tougher, MIT says.
In other research, engineers at Deakin University’s School of Engineering (Geelong, Australia) shredded scrap plastic tubing used for dialysis treatment and added it to concrete to prevent the water penetration into concrete that corrodes steel bars, thus improving the integrity of concrete structures. The innovation also provides an avenue to recycle the estimated 5,100 tons of plastic tubing that Australia’s 12,000 dialysis patients use each year. Visit mit.edu or www.deakin.edu.au/engineering.
*Scrapo, an online scrap-trading startup in Silicon Valley, has launched a platform to help sellers and buyers of scrap plastic find each other. Sellers list their materials, and interested buyers from around the world can post their bids online via computer or the Scrapo app on their phone. Buyers also may use the ScrapoSure service, in which Scrapo team members visit the sellers’ facilities to verify their identity, inspect the material, supervise the loading process, and assist with logistics. Scrapo also provides escrow payment services to ensure secure and timely payment to the seller when it ships the material. Visit scrapo.co.
* Pyrowave and INEOS Styrolution America (Aurora, Ill.) have announced a partnership to demonstrate the recyclability of postconsumer PS packaging using Pyrowave’s catalytic microwave depolymerization technology. Visit www.pyrowave.com or www.ineos-styrolution.com.
Building with Foamed Glass
AeroAggregates (Eddystone, Pa.) has hit upon a new way to use mixed postconsumer glass. Using a process it licensed from SGGC (Gelsenkirchen, Germany), AeroAggregates turns the pulverized mixed glass into foamed glass, a strong material that weighs 85 percent less than stone and can replace stone aggregate in some highway and other construction projects. The material uses less energy to manufacture than expanded shale, an alternative product used in such applications, the company says.
The mixed glass is crushed into a powder and mixed with silicon carbide, a foaming agent. Heating the blended powder causes it to foam. As the material cools, it cracks into 2-inch-wide, rock-shaped pieces.
AeroAggregates’ kiln can produce about 80,000 cubic yards of foamed glass aggregate a year from 12,000 tons of mixed glass, it says. The company plans to install a second kiln this year with financing from Closed Loop Partners (New York), and eventually it plans to use the technology in other locations. Visit aeroaggregates.com.
Activists Challenge Starbucks on Paper Cup Promises
Starbucks has joined Closed Loop Partners to launch a NextGen Cup Challenge to produce disposable paper cups that are fully recyclable and compostable in the next three years. Starbucks is committing $10 million to the initiative, it says. Environmental activist group Stand.earth points out, however, that in 2008 Starbucks said it would make a 100-percent-recyclable paper cup and serve 25 percent of drinks in reusable cups by 2015. The majority of the estimated 4 billion paper cups used at Starbucks in a year end up in the trash along with plastic lids and straws, Stand.earth says. The group has called on Starbucks to create a 100-percent-recyclable cup, recycle cups and food packaging in all of its stores worldwide, promote the use of reusable cups, eliminate single-use plastics like straws, and report publicly on the type and amount of plastics it uses in its packaging. Visit news.starbucks.com, www.closedlooppartners.com, or stand.earth.
* Smarter recycling bins, recycling systems, and fleet and logistics systems are among the digital technologies poised to transform the global recycling and waste management industries. Together, such technologies will generate $3.5 billion in revenue by 2020, says market research firm Frost & Sullivan in The Impact of Digital Transformation on the Waste Recycling Industry. The report identifies opportunities in digital technology trends, including robotic sorting, and new business models such as software as a service, customer experience tools, and big data analytics. The report also demonstrates ways commercial enterprises can leverage these technologies to improve their waste and recycling management operations, such as using RFID technology and fill sensors to monitor materials a company generates, reuses, and recycles. Industry participants the report covers include AMCS Group (Limerick, Ireland), ZenRobotics (Helsinki), Veolia (Paris), TOMRA (Asker, Norway), and Waste Management (Houston). Visit go.frost.com/EU_PR_KCekani_MAAB_WaterRecycling_
* Technology startup Polystyvert (Montreal) will work with the polymers business unit of international energy producer Total (Paris) to develop a new dissolution process for postconsumer polystyrene. The method involves dissolving and purifying household PS to create cleaner materials than is possible through mechanical processing, the companies say. Visit www.polystyvert.com/en or www.polymers.total.com.
Association Reviews Recycled Film Market Potential
The quality of processed polyethylene film samples from return-to-retail programs warrants further testing for potential new end market applications, according to the Plastics Industry Association (Washington, D.C.).
In its first phase, PLASTICS’ New End Market Opportunities for Film recycling demonstration project used samples of PE bags and wraps from return-to-retail programs and from MRFs. The NEMO for Film work group determined ranges of contamination and explored how much additional processing, such as washing and drying, would be needed to make the samples viable for recycling and reuse. It then tested processed samples to determine the mechanical and physical properties of blended PE streams and created a database of their properties, with samples end users could test.
The level of contamination the project found in MRF samples raised concerns about the economic viability of processing that material, PLASTICS says, but the return-to-retail samples were “very functional,” even with some contamination, and the quality exceeded the researchers’ expectations. Currently, demand for this material is principally for manufacturing garbage bags and plastic lumber, but the supply outweighs demand, PLASTICS says. The second phase of the NEMO for Film project will test other potential markets, which could include agricultural plastics, industrial film, can liners, bubble film, trays, drums, buckets, PP products, corrugated drainage pipe, bottles, and jars. Visit www.plasticsindustry.org.
* The Closed Loop Fund (New York) is investing $3 million in PureCycle Technologies’ Irontown, Ohio, facility to recycle polypropylene using a processing method Procter & Gamble developed. PureCycle, operated by Chicago-based Innventure, expects the $120 million facility to be fully operational in 2020. Visit www.purecycletech.com.
* Materials Recovery for the Future, an initiative of the American Chemistry Council (Washington, D.C.), will begin testing single-stream curbside recycling of flexible plastic packaging at J.P. Mascaro & Sons’ (Audubon, Pa.) TotalRecycle MRF in Berks County, Pa. The two-year pilot project, set to begin later this year, aims to create scalable recycling collection strategies for film, wraps, bags, and pouches, which currently are not widely recycled, MRFF says. Using sorting equipment from Van Dyk Recycling Solutions (Stamford, Conn.), TotalRecycle expects to produce about 3,100 tons a year of postconsumer FPP feedstock, consulting firm RRS says. Visit www.materialsrecoveryforthefuture.com or www.jpmascaro.com.
WestRock Begins Recycling Paper Food-Service Packaging
WestRock Co.’s (Atlanta) 100-percent-recycled paperboard mills now will accept mixed paper bales containing food-service packaging such as single-use cups, takeout cartons, and pizza boxes. The company says newer pulping and cleaning systems can handle these postconsumer paper items that recycling programs traditionally have rejected due to concerns about polymer coatings and food contamination.
In a pilot program in 2017, WestRock’s recycling facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky., began accepting the food-service packaging in residential recycling collections. Its recycled paperboard mill in St. Paul, Minn., tested the performance of polycoated food-service packaging during regular paperboard production. The trials showed the material caused no disruption to the company’s operations, WestRock says, and it’s a source of high-quality virgin fiber that provides more value to the mixed residential paper stream. The company’s mills now accepting the food-service packaging are in St. Paul; Chattanooga; Dallas; Aurora, Ill.; Battle Creek, Mich.; Eaton, Ind.; Missisquoi, Vt.; and Stroudburg, Pa. Visit www.westrock.com.
* Alpine Waste & Recycling (Denver) has started collecting the plastic-lined paper cups coming from Starbucks, other coffee shops, and households, according to local news reports. Alpine is sending them to pulp mill Sustana (De Pere, Wis.), which separates the plastic lining from the paper. Alpine potentially could receive up to five tons of cups a month once its program is in place, The Colorado Sun reports. Visit alpinewaste.com.
* The NextGen Consortium, an initiative of Closed Loop Partners, has launched the NextGen Cup challenge to develop and more easily commercialize recyclable or compostable single-use hot and cold fiber cups. With support from brands such as Starbucks, McDonald’s, the Coca Cola Co., and Yum!, the consortium will distribute $1 million among the top ideas, which also could enter a business accelerator program. The final review phase starts Jan. 18, with the top ideas announced Feb. 18. Visit www.nextgenconsortium.com.
* Agilyx (Tigard, Ore.) has developed a chemical processing technology to turn end-of-life polyethylene and polypropylene into a feedstock for producing ethylene and propylene, which are used in manufacturing virgin plastics. Agilyx previously developed a technique for chemically processing polystyrene into styrene that’s then used to make new PS. Visit www.agilyx.com.
Cities Add Paper Cups to List of Recyclables
Two million U.S. residents now can recycle their hot and cold paper beverage cups, as Denver joins Washington, D.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Louisville, Ky., in the Foodservice Packaging Institute’s (Falls Church, Va.) Community Partner program. In Denver, material recovery facility Alpine Waste & Recycling will send the recovered paper cups to the Sustana Fox River Fiber (De Pere, Wis.) paper mill, which produces about 450 tons of de-inked recycled pulp a day from the 1.3 million pounds of postconsumer paper it receives from suppliers.
Denver aims to use the addition of paper cups to its recycling stream as a way to draw more attention to its recycling program, FPI says. More than a year after the FPI Community Partner program launched to increase curbside collection of food-service packaging, Washington, Chattanooga, and Louisville all reported increased recycling overall. Other cities accepting paper cups for recycling include New York, Seattle, and San Francisco. Visit www.recyclefsp.org/community-partnership-program.