Recycling and repurposing plastics, particularly packaging, continues to be one of the best ways to remove plastic from the waste stream. One of the most successful recycling efforts has come from the plastic soda and water bottle market sector. For nearly two decades, these PET bottles have been the focus of consumer recycling programs as the material is repurposed into clothing, carpeting and other materials. However, with the introduction of bioresins, companies that depend on the PET recycling waste stream for material worry that bottles made from bioresins will enter the stream inadvertently and wreak havoc with the processing machinery.
Plastics recycling is critical to the production of repurposed products. Recycling plastic grocery, dry cleaning, and newspaper bags is picking up steam as more grocery stores provide recycling bins. Companies that repurpose these bags into other products like the idea. Building products are a big market for wood/plastic composite (WPC) materials, as consumer demand greater durability and low-maintenance in products such as decking, railing, and fencing.
For example, Trex Company, a producer of WPC decking materials headquartered in Winchester, Virginia, recently announced a new program to recycle and reuse plastic bags, thus reducing their impact on the local environment. Trex joined with Penn Jersey Paper and Good will Industries to launch the BagSmart program, a comprehensive initiative to help consumers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey recycle and reuse plastic bags.
Through the BagSmart program, consumers are encouraged to recycle used grocery bags, dry cleaning bags and even newspaper bags at their local grocery stores or Goodwill centers. The bags are collected regularly and taken to Goodwill facilities, where they are sorted, baled and shipped to Trex to be repurposed into beautiful, low-maintenance composite decking material. Approximately 140,000 grocery bags are used to create an average 500-square-foot Trex deck. All grocery bags and stretch film/pallet wrap collected through BagSmart will be repurposed into Trex's decking, railing or fencing products.
TieTek LLC produces plastic composite railroad crossties, eliminating the need for creosote-treated hardwood ties in heavy freight and transit track. The TieTek tie is produced from recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) combined with reinforcing fillers and fibers to provide the required stiffness, compression strength, impact tolerance and fastener holding power. This innovative polymer has several beneficial environmental features - each year it uses 50 million pounds of recycled HDPE, consumes rubber from 1 million recycles tires, preserves 75,000 mature hardwood trees, and avoids the need for toxic wood preservatives.