China’s ban on imported plastic waste has put many U.S. companies in a bind. Given that globally more than 90% of plastic becomes waste, finding an optimal way to get rid of it other than landfilling has been difficult. IntegriCo (Sarepta, LA), a manufacturer of composite railway products, is one company rising to the challenge to reduce the amount of waste plastics in the United States.
“IntegriCo is proud to have diverted over 80 million pounds of plastic away from landfills,” said Brian Gaughan, Vice President of Business Development. “This plastic has been turned into our composite products, including IntegriTies railroad ties and construction matting through IntegriCo’s innovative technology.”
Once recycling is collected from a consumer’s curbside, it is delivered to a material recovery facility (MRF). Items are sorted, baled, and then bought by both foreign and domestic companies to be turned into various materials. The bales vary in consistency, and plastic bales are sometimes contaminated or contain low-value plastics that can’t be sold. Instead, they are sent to landfills throughout the country, IntegriCo explained.
Over 34 million metric tons of plastics are sent to a landfill or incinerated in the United States and Canada each year.
Plastic with the resin identification numbers one (PET(E), and two (HDPE) are most in demand by manufacturers using recycled plastic. This includes plastic bottles and jugs. Plastics with the numbers three through seven are more challenged. IntegriCo is one U.S.-based company that will accept these types of plastics, along with mixed rigid plastic like buckets, laundry baskets and crates.
IntegriCo claims that it is not only processing recycled plastics that others cannot, but is using a more eco-friendly approach than its competitors. IntegriCo utilizes a low-temperature process that preserves the properties of plastic while releasing fewer fumes, and its final products last longer than alternatives, producing less waste over time.
“IntegriCo is just one company closing the loop to prevent plastic waste by turning recycled plastic into new, long-lasting material,” added Gaughan. “As cities struggle for recycling solutions, we aim to keep increasing production of composite materials, so this plastic does not go into landfills, or worse, our oceans.”
Currently IntegriCo clients include Union Pacific railway, the U.S. military and Rock Island Arsenal. It also continues making international shipments to support the infrastructures of Germany and Russia.