By Frank Antosiewicz

Published: April 12, 1999 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Computers & business machines, In Print

FRAMINGHAM, MASS. — Former portals to the information highway are being converted to filler for highway underlay and pothill filler by a Framingham recycling firm.

Students and dignitaries pounded old computer housings April 6 to illustrate how Conigliaro Industries Inc. is recycling 25,000 pounds of the stuff each day.

It was part of a demonstration put on by the American Plastics Council and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to show that the company can recycle as many 13 million pounds of plastic housings from computers and electronic components a year.

``It was cool — my payback for computers,'' said Paula Zatko, 9, an East Longmeadow, Mass., home-school student who took a crushing swing at a computer housing with a sledgehammer.

She was one of more than 20 students participating in an outreach program run concurrently at the site by the National Plastics Center and Museum in Leominster, Mass.

The staged event also provided a look at how outdated products can be put to good use.

President Gregory A. Conigliaro estimates that a typical computer contains 18-20 pounds of mixed plastics. The idea is to turn it all into a cold patch, a pothole filler for parking lots and driveways.

``We are taking the stone aggregate and replacing it with plastic,'' said Anthony Conigliaro, vice president of operations and engineering and Gregory's father.

A 31/2-gallon can of the plastic patching substance weighs 25 pounds, about half the weight of the typical patching component. It hardens in about 24 hours when exposed to air. A variety of mixtures have been tried and tests are being run in Massachusetts and Florida, thanks to an $8,000 grant from the University of Massachusetts.

The first part of the process was funded with an APC grant of more than $100,000 worth of machinery, including a conveying system, a shredder and a low-speed, high-shear granulator. The company has retrofitted its original processing line to develop a high-volume processing line for the mixed plastics.

The grant from Washington-based APC has had a snowball effect. The state DEP added a $45,000 grant, and the Environmental Protection Agency kicked in $65,000 to study ways to collect and dispose of unwanted electronic equipment.

According to Stephen K. Long, recycling markets planner for the DEP's Bureau of Waste Prevention, the state grant came from a program designed to deal with difficult-to-recycle products.

``Conigliaro was one of 30 proposals, and 10 grants were awarded for a total of $400,000'' in all industries, Long said.

The prototype equipment is turning out buckets of the fill and the company plans to start its Cold Patch manufacturing operation in about a month.

Conigliaro Industries, which operates an 88,000-square-foot materials recovery facility, uses cleaned computer cabinets and other electronic product housings after the electronics and metals have been removed. The reground plastic is repelletized, and the pellets are added to the asphalt mix for highway underlay and to commercial pothole mixes.

``As we ramp up our production, we will ramp up our marketing,'' said Gregory Conigliaro, who expects to generate 15,000 buckets a month.

He sees home-improvement stores as a likely market. The company already provides its plastic mix to a contractor for use in asphalt products.

Conigliaro Industries started as a one-person recycling services firm in 1990. It now recycles 150 different plastic, metal, glass, rubber, wood, corrugated paper and textile materials.

A family-run business, the company has 35 employees. It serves 550 industrial, institutional and municipal customers.

Typically, it drops off a tractor-trailer at a site and invites the company to fill it with any recyclable material, from paper to plastic.

With the short lifespan of computers and electronic products, Conigliaro has found a niche. Beginning Sept. 1, Massachusetts is banning cathode ray tubes from landfills.

The company also expects a boost from rapid changes in television broadcast technology. Solid waste officials expect consumers to replace analog sets with digital and high-definition TVs.

``By the time HDTV comes in 2005, we expect to have 300,000 tons [of solid waste],'' said Robin F. Ingenthron, director of recycling programs for the Massachusetts DEP.



By Frank Antosiewicz

Published: April 12, 1999 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments

Back to story

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events