metric tons of plastic trash will be converted to synthetic lumber for a new
railroad bridge in Vancouver, BC.
specified plastic lumber for the project in place of pressure treated wood.
advantages of Altwood (plastic lumber) in this project are that it does not
absorb water, will never rot, will not leach toxins into the soil or water and
is safe for the workers to handle with their bare hands, none of which is true
for pressure-treated wood, a toxic alternative," says Brian Burchill, manager
of Syntal Products. Syntal is
making the material for the $43 million Lynn Creek Rail Bridge and Brooksbank
Avenue Underpass project in North Vancouver, BC.
One of the
ironies of the project though is rail cars using the bridge may be shipping
local plastic waste overseas instead of using it in local projects.
"The cost of
the final product is driven up by Syntal having to pay world prices for
recycled plastics it has to import," Burchill tells Design News
. "Would it not make much more sense for Syntal to be
given the local plastics, with the cost benefit to the local region being the
avoidance of that much plastic going to landfill, the avoidance of export
trucking and shipping costs and the benefit to all of the avoidance of the
environmental damage caused by the pollution produced by all that transport?"
In one of
the ironies of trash plastics' economics, the locally discarded milk bottles,
yogurt containers and other waste is collected and sent to dealers, many of
whom ship to buyers in China. That stream was set up under an eight year
contract with another company that collects and sells plastics waste in the
Products solicits waste drop-off at two locations in British Columbia and also
buys plastics waste from other municipalities, local manufacturers and dealers.
problem is that the plastic waste is often not clean.
still treats used plastics as trash," says Burchill. "Hence, much of the
plastics we receive contain so much food residue in it that we cannot use those
plastics in our process. Also, the collection systems commingle the plastics
with metal and/or glass, which either make the plastics unusable, or cause very
labor-intensive sorting to be required to extract usable plastics from the
produce final product at a rate of about 500 lbs/hr. The company was
established in 1995 and is the first plant designed and commissioned by
Industrial Recycling Systems Corp. a distributor for Julien Environmental
s.a., a world leader in commingled thermoplastics recycling