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Polinox has developed a pioneering project in Brazil, which consists in collecting plastic packages containing organic peroxides in order to recycle them into environmentally-sound plastic wood materials.
(Published on December 2007 – JEC Magazine #37)
ROBERTO PONTIFEX, DIRECTOR, POLINOX
ARTUR CATUNDA, COGUMELO´S OPERATIONS MANAGER IN SÃO PAULO
As a leading player in the Brazilian composite market, Polinox decided to extend its environmental responsibility policy to other levels of the supply chain. To this end, the company has started to collect high-density polyethylene (HDPE) packaging containing organic peroxides from its customers' plants in the metropolitan area of São Paulo. The material is stored in Polinox's facility and transferred every month to Cogumelo, one of the largest Brazilian composite processors, who uses it to manufacture Policog® plastic lumber.
Policog is a composite material with a matrix that is entirely made of a material originating from recycled plastic waste. The material is produced using a technology, developed by Cogumelo, called glasstrusion. This is a mix of extrusion and pultrusion with fibreglass and thermoplastic resins. Plastic lumber looks like ordinary wood. This solution is already widely used in the USA. Policog offers many advantages over natural wood: crack- and splinter-free, corrosion resistant and immune to pests. It can be drilled, sawed and screwed just like real wood, and is not affected by mildew or fungi. It is easy to clean with water, may be bulk-pigmented, requires no maintenance (paint or vanish), and contains none of the toxic substances that can be found in treated wood. Plastic lumber can be used to produce many types of products: benches, tables, garbage disposal, fences, guardrails, decks, piers, marinas, garage and parking items.
The project is currently in design phase, as the recovered packages are just arriving from the first customers. Transport companies contracted to deliver the products also take the empty packages back to the Itupeva plant. Thereafter, Cogumelo is in charge of transferring the packages to its facility in Bragança Paulista city, about 50 km away. Polinox’s current customers comprise over 500 manufacturers, 25% of whom are within the reserved area dedicated to the packaging recycling project. The project began in January 2007, so it is still too early to forecast the amount of plastic that will be recovered. To encourage their customers, Polinox intends to exchange the empty packages for tables, benches and many other products made by Cogumelo.
The selective waste collection system is still very deficient in Brazil, so Cogumelo needs to find alternatives to ensure its supply. To this end, the company has established close links with the waste collection and recycling cooperatives in Bragança Paulista.
In exchange, Cogumelo will provide woodplastic- based products. Cogumelo manufactures around 60 tons of Policog per month. The potential market is significant when considering the demand for railway sleepers. For the time being, Policog still represents a small percentage of the company’s balance sheet. However, the demand has been growing regularly
Cogumelo is a manufacturer of fibreglass pultruded products (platforms and structures, guardrails, ladders for highly corrosive environments, phenolic floor gratings, electric cable trays, etc.). Founded in 1972, Cogumelo is a family enterprise which employs about 150 people in its plant in Campo Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.