4 Innovative Companies Helping to Reduce Post-Consumer Plastic Waste

Posted on June 1, 2011 by Courtney

Please welcome today’s guest poster, Ann.

Not all plastic is recyclable; however, plastic items such as milk jugs, shopping bags and water bottles can be recycled into all sorts of new and innovative products. Many companies are taking on the challenge of plastic recycling and finding some interesting and beneficial ways to reuse our everyday plastic waste, from creating stylish handbags to durable outdoor decking. Here are a few examples: 

Ecospun: This company, based in the United Kingdom, creates textile fabrics by melting reclaimed plastic into a liquid. The liquid is than poured through a device similar to a sieve. From there, the long strands of thin, threadlike plastic are woven into fabrics such as fleece or into decorative carpets.

Dekalb Molded Plastics: This structural plastics molding company makes things like street safety cones, MRI helmets and plastic pallets. All of Dekalb’s products are made from 100% recycled materials. Dekalb takes post-consumer and post-industrial polyethylene and mixes it with rubber tires to make 100% recycled structural plastic products.

Insulastics: This insulation company is working to develop building insulation from recycled plastic bottles. If Insulastics R & D is successful , the company will be killing two birds with one stone. Not only will the insulation help to reduce the amount of plastic which winds up in our landfills, oceans and rivers, it will help to reduce overall energy consumption. About 90 percent of America’s energy consumption is used for climate control — the heating and cooling of our homes, offices and other interior spaces. According to Insulastics, plastic has a low thermal conductivity rate. In other words, it doesn’t transfer heat. In addition, plastic has a high R-value. The R-value is the rating system used by the construction industry to determine a material’s resistance to heat flow. Insulastics’ mission is to create the world’s first “super-insulator” made from recycled plastic.

Terracycle: This company. which caused quite a stir among DIY-ers a few years ago, has come up with various innovative ways to reuse plastic. Terracycle was founded by Tom Szaky, a Princeton student who needed to pay his way through college. Szaky started off selling liquid worm poop as fertilizer. What made Szaky unique was that he sold his fertilizer in reused 2-liter pop bottles and made his own labels by cleaning the dye off, fusing, and then reprinting plastic shopping bags. Terracycle now sells a number of recycled plastic items, from tote bags made from reclaimed Target bags to trash cans made from old computer casings. Terracycle has recently teamed up with Old Navy on a campaign to recycle flip-flops. Take your old flip-flops into an Old Navy store and drop them off. Old Navy will send them to Terracycle, where they will be turned into playground equipment. Old Navy will than donate the equipment to schools which participate in the program.

Plastic isn’t going away anytime soon. With innovations expanding and more companies making a commitment to the environment by reclaiming post-consumer and industrial plastic waste, we can begin to reduce the number of products made with new plastics and increase the number of products made with recycled plastic.

3 Comments +

  1. This is cheering! Thanks so much for this post, Ann. I usually feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of plastic that collects in my house, and that I have no way to recycle. It’s good to know that companies are getting on board and developing ways to make themselves more profitable while making sensible use of plastics.

    June 1st, 2011 at 12:25 pm
    Comment by Deborah
  2. I have been keeping an eye out on Terracycle for some time now. I believe they are one of the most innovative companies around. Just wish they sold stock!

    June 1st, 2011 at 6:08 pm
    Comment by Rob
  3. Good stuff.

    June 2nd, 2011 at 2:30 pm
    Comment by mickey

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If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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