Article from the Herald, February 2017. So here we are in 2018. One year later. Why the hell is our plastic still being dumped to landfill? Why the constant excuses from packaging companies and their recyclers that “China won’t take it any more”? This is just one of MANY solutions waiting to be utilised:
“Company Turns Plastic Waste Into High Quality Concrete”
By: Matthew Theunissen
A New Zealand company is turning plastic waste into high-quality concrete.
Plazrok, the brainchild of south Auckland-based company Enviroplaz, is unique in that it can transform absolutely any type of plastic into a rock-like substance that forms the aggregate of concrete.
“We don’t take the labels off, we don’t have to disassemble it or take any of the other components off it, we can use it in its entirety,” said Enviroplaz founding director Peter Barrow.
“We don’t even need to clean it – the process we put it through does everything for us.”
What’s more, concrete companies would not have to change their processes at all in order to use the Plazrok in their product.
Yet they would end up with concrete that is 10 to 40 per cent lighter than usual. That spells big savings.
“For example, when they were building Britomart … there were 7000 truck movements between Wiri and Britomart in order to deliver that concrete. If you decreased the weight by 20 per cent you’ve dropped that down to 5000 trips. Think about what that does for your industry, for the roads, for your diesel usage, for your tyre savings,” Barrow said.
Plazrok concrete had strengths comparable to conventional concrete, while offering seismic advantages.
“There’s no reason that we should be chucking plastic in the oceans or rivers, or in landfills,”
The company’s managing director is former cycling champion Stephen Swart, famed for being the first person to blow the whistle on drug cheat Lance Armstrong.
Swart saw huge potential in the product, particularly as a way to reduce environmental waste.
“All we’re doing is substituting the aggregate, which gets mined out of hillsides, with this material,” he said.
“So we’re saying it can all come here … no plastic needs to enter landfill anymore.”
Enviroplaz has developed another innovative plastic product, Plaztuff, which could have big implications for the construction industry.
Barrow said Plaztuff was seven times lighter than steel, and can also be used in place of stainless steel, aluminium, fibreglass or plywood, yet does not rot, rust or corrode.
There’s no reason that we should be chucking plastic in the oceans or rivers, or in landfills.
It has been used to build boats, barges, swimming pools, quarrying and aggregate bins, truck tankers, and even an art sculpture.
“We can build a truck tanker that’s almost as competitively priced as a steel tanker, and yet you don’t have to paint it, it doesn’t rust and it doesn’t rot so the maintenance cost is a lot lower” Barrow said.
“The production time is also lower because it’s lighter material so it’s easier to handle. So suddenly we’ve got a material that not only reduces the end user’s cost but reduces the [cost] implication for the people building with it.”
Plaztuff is made from a base of polyethylene residue with a master batch of “secret herbs and spices”.
“If you took an aluminium boat and you took a sledgehammer to it you’d ding it. If you took a sledgehammer to this it won’t do a thing,” Barrow said.
What’s more, it’s completely recyclable.
“And in 30 years time we can buy this material back and reuse it in exactly the same process by re-grinding it.”
The company is in talks with Siam Concrete in Thailand, which is interested in utilising both products.
Barrow had met with Thai Ambassador Maris Sangiampongsa, who saw the business as an opportunity to strengthen business ties between the two countries.
“We basically see Plaztuff and Plazrok as a global technology – the local market has been our test ground, our proving ground … as part of the journey to get us on a global march,” Barrow said.
And even the Labour government is doing it’s part. Eugeny Sage issuing this press statement in May 2018:
Government funding to boost NZ plastics recycling capacity
Friday, 25 May 2018, 9:09 am
Press Release: New Zealand Government
Hon Eugenie Sage
Associate Minister for the Environment
25 May 2018 MEDIA STATEMENT
Plastic recycling company Astron is getting $500,000 under the Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund to expand its plastic recycling facility in New Zealand, Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.
“The Government is committed to reducing the amount of waste going to landfill or being shipped offshore,” Eugenie Sage said.
“Improving our onshore ability to recycle plastics into new, useful products is really important, particularly given the pressures on the recycling export sector with reduced markets and lower prices for exporting recycling materials.”
Astron is one of Australasia’s largest recyclers of used plastics. Every year it converts millions of kilograms of plastic into new products including plastic resin, slip sheets and underground cable covers.
Astron will use the funding at its Auckland plant, including to install a pre-shredder and extruder, to filter out contamination from organics and other waste. This technology will add to one of the plant’s existing recycling lines, allowing it to run at optimum levels and increase the range of hard-to-recycle plastics, numbered 2 and 4, that can be processed.
The expanded capability will mean agricultural plastics, such as silage wrap and milk powder bags, will be able to be recycled.
The Waste Minimisation Fund was established in 2009 and is funded by a levy of $10 per tonne charged on waste disposed of at landfills.
“We want to accelerate New Zealand’s transition to a circular economy, where we can unmake everything we make, and reuse, recycle or compost each individual part of a product so that waste is essentially designed out of the system,” Eugenie Sage said.
Sounds like packaging manufacturers and their recycling contractors need to have a good chat with the Hon. Ms. Sage and get this “crisis” sorted!
Moments after I published this, the following came through my newsfeed: