Friday, January 24, 2014

EcoStrate: 100% post-consumer waste-based signs and flooring

While traffic signs are an everyday sight, the sign pictured above is unique in that it is produced from 100% post-consumer waste. Compared to the aluminum signs you’ll find roadside today, these signs from EcoStrate are less expensive, have a lower impact, and are less prone to theft by metal thieves.

EcoStrate uses patent-pending thermoforming to reform plastic waste into high-quality rigid panels. The process can use any size or type of carpet, including polyester, polypropylene, and the PVC backing, as well as plastic e-waste. The final product does not require blending with virgin materials, resulting in a 100% post-consumer waste product.

EcoStrate currently sources materials from R2 or e-Steward certified suppliers to avoid toxic or harmful contamination. EcoStrate hopes to eventually take back their product at the end of life to be recycled into fresh panels. Approximately one pound of waste can be reformed into one square foot of quarter-inch thick tile and no chemicals or water are added during manufacturing.

“We utilize about the same energy as a baler and create little or no emissions,” says Ron Sherga, founder of EcoStrate. “Since EcoStrate also avoids many of the steps that exist in current polymer recycling, we provide a materials solution that is 80% less in GHG emissions and water usage versus virgin materials. These findings are based on current EPA and DOE LCA models and data.”

Various patterns can be created through arranging the input plastics before thermoforming.

Mr. Sherga hopes that EcoStrate panels will ultimately find a wide variety of uses in addition to signage. EcoStrate is currently partnering with Texas Corporate Floors Inc to trial plastic floor tiles as an attractive alternative to vinyl and ceramic tiles. EcoStrate could be used to replace acrylic or polycarbonate materials in building materials, furniture, and more.

“Our vision is to use alternative energy, occupy distressed real estate, and empower persons with disabilities through employment and donations from sales.”

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tools for carpet removal and recycling

At CARE, we get a lot of questions about the best tools and procedures for carpet recycling from both consumers and professionals alike. We plan to feature some of our favorite tools and best advice over the coming months, so stay tuned.

The first step towards recycling carpet is pulling it up from the source. We prefer the Stand-Up Cutter and Carpet Peeler tools from Crain. These two tools allow for easy cutting, peeling, and removal of carpet while standing up. This ensures good ergonomics that will lead to fewer strain injuries and less back and knee pain.

The Jus-Push Cutter is used to slice glued-down carpet into easily removable strips. It features a sharp, hardened point that rides on the subfloor, pre-cutting the material and lifts the carpet into the blade. The heavy-duty handle is adjustable in length and double-locks for safety.

The Stand-Up Carpet Peeler is used grab hold of glued-down carpet and peel it away from the floor. A sharp pin is driven under the carpet with a kick. The shape of the tool acts as a lever for huge mechanical advantage to pull the carpet away from the floor.

While these tools make carpet removal easy, remember that debris-contaminated carpet will be more difficult to recycle and you should take steps to protect carpet during demolition. Cover the carpet with plastic to protect it from paint, drywall, plaster, and dirty boots. Carpet is never recyclable if it’s been exposed to asbestos. Avoid using tape to bind the rolls of carpet so that sticky residue isn’t left behind. Find your local CARE certified collector for more advice and local regulations and stay tuned for more recycling tips from CARE.

While CARE makes every effort to ensure accuracy, we make no recommendations or endorsements on products or procedures.  It is up to each user to make its own decisions on tools and techniques and CARE assumes no liability.