A UK company has developed technology to transform waste plastic into timber substitutes.
Known as Smartawood, the lumber is formed from pretty much any type of plastic – even those that are contaminated with food or metal after the sorting process. For every tonne of recycled plastic used by Plastecowood, 700kg of carbon is diverted from landfill.
The product can be used as infrastructure, for fencing, steps and walkways and requires no maintenance and no replacements. In fact, studies from WRAP found that the timber alternative required no replacement over a 23-timeframe, compared to traditional timber which needed replacing four times.
Plastecowood was set up after years of research and development and a multi-million pound investment at the Expressway Business Park in Bodelwyddan, North Wales, where they were backed by a Welsh Government grant.
It sees ‘dirty’ plastic waste not wanted by other recyclers sorted and melted before being moulded into Smartawood fencing, tables, and bollards and in the case of some local authorities sold back to the customer who brought in the waste.
“We are dealing with things like plastic shopping bags and margarine tubs that would have otherwise ended in landfill,” the company says.
“We were aware of the problem with plastic being shipped to landfill and that is why we became involved. It was important to us to do a green business.”
The waste is sent down the processing line, where after miscellaneous items are removed by workers on the line, the plastic gets melted at 200 Celsius and comes out like a “toothpaste”.
He added: “We are the only company in the world using this technology at the moment. The potential going forward is huge.”