Moama, Australia — A plastic lumber business is providing the funds to develop a mixer-melter that uses co-mingled, post-consumer plastics to create a plastic substrate.
The mixer-melter is the brainchild of mechanical engineer Ross Collins, who invented, manufactures and sells a range of portable, self-priming pumps for farm irrigation and drainage from his base in the regional town of Moama, in the state of New South Wales.
About four years ago, Collins invented the mixer-melter technology and established two Hong Kong-based companies to commercialize it. PolyWaste Intellectual Property Ltd. owns the patented intellectual property and PolyWaste Technologies Ltd. licenses other companies to use it.
The first licensee is a related company, Newtecpoly Pty. Ltd., also headquartered in Moama. Collins is a director of Newtecpoly.
Newtecpoly administrative director Colin Barker, who is also CEO of the two PolyWaste companies, told Plastics News the first mixer-melter, dubbed ‘the green machine,’ is a prototype. It converts contaminated, mixed plastic to a homogenous molten plastic ready for processing.
“Traditionalists say you can’t mix polymers in extruders, but PolyWaste recycling technology effectively produces a plastic composite made from mixed and soiled film and rigid plastic source materials,” Barker said.
It can tolerate products from multiple commercial, industrial, agricultural and domestic waste streams. Polyethylene and polypropylene can go directly into the mixer-melter, and Barker said PolyWaste is currently lab testing PVC to see if it is suitable.
Newtecpoly is now developing downstream processing lines so other potential licensees can see the mixer-melter technology in action.
Barker said Newtecpoly will have a fully operational extrusion line in August and he expects to have rotational molding operations by December.
The process is cheaper than traditional recycling because it avoids the need to clean the plastic, Barker said. For now, Newtecpoly’s eWood plastic lumber is subsidizing development of the PolyWaste technology.
The eWood planks and garden products are made mainly from recycled ABS collected from old computers, printers, televisions and other electronic equipment. Newtecpoly bought the eWood business in December 2014 and relocated it from Melbourne.