|Sustainable Re-Use of Resources: Waste Plastic Labels Transformed into Plastic Lumber|
|Tuesday, May 17, 2011|
Sustainable Re-Use of Resources: Waste Plastic Labels Transformed into Plastic Lumber
In the past, because labels covering plastic bottles were made of varying materials, they were difficult to be sorted for reuse or recycling, and were thus treated as garbage. In order to treat these labels as a resource that could be sustainably reused, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) of Chinese Taipei commissioned research and development of a process to turn plastic labels into a powder that could serve as a raw ingredient for plastic lumber, and thus help reduce the use of wood and fossil fuel resources.
Approximately 160,000 metric tonnes of plastic containers are recycled per year, from which about 1000 metric tonnes of plastic labels are separated. The labels consist of varying materials, including PET, OPS, OPP and PVC plastics. In the past, because there was no way to effectively separate labels from containers for recycling, they were treated by incineration or landfill, and remained a source of both resource depletion and environmental pollution.
An EPA commission scrutinized this problem and developed a technology for reusing waste labels, demonstrating that the mixed material from plastic labels could be ground into a fine powder that could serve as a raw ingredient for plastic lumber, replacing wood powder. The plastic lumber can be used to make outdoor public benches, handrails for hiking paths, flower garden floors, and other such products.
Although plastic lumber containing 5% of powder made from plastic labels exhibits some inferior physical properties, other properties, such as high durability to impact, high tensile strength, and good ability to hold nails, can certainly meet standards. In the future businesses will see the practicality of a product with such physical properties and adjust the proportion of plastic by themselves. Each kilogram of finished plastic lumber product is estimated to represent savings of 2%-5% of material costs.