- Wayne Conrad
To be or not to be… or to be again and again
Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet spoke the famous phase "To be, or not to be" as he contemplated his life, just as we now contemplate whether to try banning plastics and eliminating their use. We use plastics in many applications because they are light weight, strong and durable. Plastics are so commonplace that we carelessly discard them without a second thought. In the 1960’s and 1970’s plastics were touted as a solution to reducing our use of trees and now we are considering using trees in the form of paper, and paper pulp products to replace plastics. Life often comes “full circle”, which is what we must do with plastics.
The durable nature of plastics is why they are widely used, but this durability has become a “plague” throughout our world as carelessly discarded plastics contaminate our lands, streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. In the past, people through that once plastics "visually disappeared" they had ceased to be a problem. Now we know that even once these plastics have been mechanically broken down into tiny fragments by the action of winds and waves, micro-plastics continue to be a problem. Many plastics used for packaging have a relatively short initial life, and the materials they were filled with, labels that were adhered to them, or other plastic parts which were attached to them make them impractical to recycle using current methods. Clearly, a short term solutions is needed to solve this urgent issue.
One solution is to “ban plastics” and not make them at all, which means we lose the benefits of using plastics for preserving foods and many other goods and uses.
A second solution is to make plastics biodegrade more easily but then the energy and resources that went into making the plastics is lost.
A third solution which would create the greatest social, economic and environmental benefits would be to recycle plastics “again and again” on a local basis using a process that uses a fraction of the energy of producing new plastics and that does not pollute to create useful products for local consumption or for export.
Omachron has developed a compact, inexpensive low energy process that can take moderately contaminated plastic including paper labels, even mixes of different plastic types, and locally make it into hundreds of useful products. The ever growing assortment of products ranges from patio tiles, plastic lumber, roofing and siding materials to furniture, floating docks, tool boxes and totes, storage sheds, toys, boats, and a wide range of other products. Once these items made from the mixed recycled plastic broken or aesthetically unappealing after years or decades of use, they can be recycled 10 or more times. Even rugs, clothing made of plastics as well as plastic bags and straws can be recycled in the plastic mix used to make these products.
We can create distributed manufacturing where waste plastics become a valuable resource in communities providing employment and valuable products including building materials, furniture, toys and many other items.