A fledgling New Jersey company said it is poised to commercialize a process for converting waste paint and recycled plastics into new, usable polymers.
If successful, East Brunswick, N.J.-based Re-Manufacturing Technologies Inc. will create a viable recycling stream for the nearly 80 million gallons of paint discarded in the United States annually, and give processors a new feedstock that potentially could relieve material pricing pressures.
Re-Manufacturing Technologies has a licensing agreement with Piscataway, N.J.-based Rutgers University. The school's Advanced Materials via Immiscible Polymer Processing Center is credited with developing the technology.
To date, researchers have been able to make replacement high density polyethylene and acrylic from waste latex paints.
Rutgers researchers also plan to create other plastics, as well as eventually use oil- and solvent-based paints.
But for now, any high-volume paint-to-plastic recycling efforts will have to wait. The company probably is two to three years away from full production, officials said.
``We're developing the pilot plant, then marketing the technology to others,'' said company President Marv Goodman, in a March 21 telephone interview. ``We'll have limited production - about 6 million pounds per year. But we want to sublicense the technology to companies around the world.''
The cost of discarding waste paint is $8.81 per gallon, said Goodman, who is also president of National Council on Paint Disposition Inc., a group dedicated to reducing the cost and environmental impact of discarded paint.
Once water, oil or solvents are removed from paint, what's left is a thermoplastic material, said Rutgers professor Thomas Nosker, AMIPP principal researcher.
The first idea is to make a 100 percent recycled and reblended paint can. ``We can take the can, throw it in the hopper and rework it. A totally closed-loop system,'' Goodman said.
Mixing recycled paint with acrylic has yielded resins with strong engineering properties, according to Nosker.
``It could take the place of ABS or polycarbonate in certain applications,'' he said.
Test results on the new acrylic material show it has the same stiffness and strength characteristics, but actually is improved in the area of brittleness, Nosker said.