MEXICO CITY (Sept. 17, 12:15 p.m. EDT) — Toluca, Mexico-based New Plastic SA de CV is using patented technology to convert unsorted plastics waste into useful products.
Nathan Samra, part owner as well as production and development manager at the family-owned firm, said he applied in 1993 for a Mexican patent on the process he developed. After significant effort and investment, he finally secured the patent in 2000. He now is looking to patent the process in other markets.
In an interview at Plastimagen in Mexico City, Samra did not reveal any technical details, other than to say it takes seven steps to turn unsorted plastic waste into usable plastic lumber. He said New Plastic is working with ISO 14000-certified manufacturers that have zero-waste programs, including a multinational business-equipment maker he declined to identify. New Plastic takes all of such firms' plastic waste and converts it into lumber. The resulting, commercial-size planks typically range from about one-half to 1 inch thick, 4-6 inches wide and 4-8 feet long. All the lumber is black or brown, but can be painted, he said.
Meantime, Samra also is applying his development skills to designing thermoformable pallets with specific attributes.
The lightweight, one-piece pallets are made of recycled high density polyethylene and feature a geometric design that imparts rigidity and strength while also making them stackable to save storage space. Samra said he designed the pallets specifically to be used on conveyor systems. He explained that the union at one customer's company required, for safety reasons, pallets that weighed less than 22 pounds. His design yielded a 45-by 55-inch pallet that weighs 20½ pounds and can hold 1,100 pounds.
He said he recently landed an order for 50,000 pallets from one company.
New Plastic runs six thermoforming machines and is looking to add four more, according to Nathan's sister Lela Samra, who is the firm's commercial manager. The 55-employee company operates four plants — three that do thermoforming and one that does extrusion.
Plastic runs through the Sarma family. Their father, Victor, owns a T-shirt bag company called Funsam in Lerma, near Toluca, that runs two new Battenfeld Gloucester film lines that each can produce five bags at a time. The plant processes 1.32 million pounds of plastic every month, he said. Their brother Mena runs that plant, while brother Daniel runs retail bag stores.