Man has produced more than eight billion tonnes of plastic and has consigned more than 6.3 billion tonnes of it to landfill or the ocean. The problem is that plastic pollutes and is resource-intensive. The opportunity is that we can do a much better job of recycling this valuable and amazing resource.
Currently, plastic recycling involves adding between 5% and 35% of it, in a washed, dried and reground state, to virgin plastic to create a new part. This immediately creates a number of economic and logistical barriers to recycling, especially in the developing world where water, beverage and food containers are a pollution epidemic. The problem is that, in order to make recycling economically viable, new virgin plastic must be imported and products produced for which there is a demand.
Omachron Plastics has a plan for making the use of plastic waste economically viable. It’s new plastic extruder and injection molder, the subject of 8 years of R&D, are able to use 100% recycled HDPE, ABS, PVC and PET in their conversion to finished goods. The process is low cost and consumes low amounts of power. This has profound implications for cleaning up the world.
The Company’s research and testing has shown that HDPE, ABS and PVC can be recycled 10 times without significantly degrading the material properties. If we were to reuse our plastics 10 times, we would reduce dramatically the amount of virgin plastic we need each year and the amount going to landfill. This could herald a new era of sustainability.
The economics are compelling. For example, a plastic recycling line which produces 18-inch-wide corrugated plastic sheeting for walls and roofs costs approximately $85,000 USD, requires only 400 square feet to operate, requires a 200V, 100A single-phase power service, and can convert approximately 100 pounds of waste per hour into finished goods. Even in areas where electricity costs $0.35/kWh, this system can convert waste into building materials for an energy cost of approximately $0.077 USD/pound ($0.1694 USD/kg) - a fraction of the cost of importing virgin resin and making finished products.
Waste PET water bottles can be recycled into plastic using less than 0.22 kWh/lb (0.484 kWh/kg).
Thus, it is practical to divert waste from landfill into valuable product and bring jobs and hard dollars into local communities. Small-business entrepreneurs can make a wide range of products including building materials, buckets, dishes, durable utensils, chairs, other furniture, souvenirs, or just about anything that can be made by injection molding.
The footprint for the machines is small, the energy use is low, and the cost of molds is low.
The cleanup of our world can be self-funding. Today’s plastic garbage can be tomorrow’s asset.