Howard Waghorn; unused plastic is a commodity, not a waste.

Why waste needs good PR

Published:  13 October, 2009

RECYCLING: Every year the UK sends million of tonnes of plastic to landfill. Worse still, scrap steel and other materials are even exported overseas at huge cost, writes Howard Waghorn, managing directr of i-plas.

This wasteful system is not only expensive, it is a travesty. Plastic is a valuable resource and should be treated as such because 'waste' as our short-sighted society calls it, is a valuable commodity.

Everyone knows that glass, paper and steel can be recycled, but plastic can be transformed in a myriad of ways, with untold mainstream uses from building materials to railway sleepers.

My company, i-plas, recycles plastic and turns it into a revolutionary material that is a direct replacement for concrete steel and wood. Its applications are wide and varied from decking, kerbstones, furniture, flooring and railway sleepers.

The potential of this so-called 'waste' is, for us, huge. Unused plastic is a commodity, not a waste, and this is the hub of the matter.

Waste needs a public relations agency. Even the name has negative connotations.

Look up the word waste in a thesaurus and the words 'impurity', 'dross', 'excretion' and 'fumes' are its bedfellows. These are not words often associated with value!

We see its potential and work with high volume producers of waste to find solutions other than sending materials to landfill. We have recently created a partnership with Crown Paints to recycle its plastics, transforming it into a variety of new uses, many of which are reused again by Crown.

Roofing battens and nailer profiles are some of i-plas' offerings.

We also work with world-leading construction and civil engineering businesses like Network Rail who put our i-plas material to good use.

So why, then, does society still send plastic to landfill, or, worse still, export it to another country to be taken care of - at great expense in a monetary and environmental sense?

Society knows that we can't continue using limited resources, but neither the incentives nor the education is in place to motivate us as a global community.

There are plenty of disincentives, such as tax and legislation, but there is less in place to help motivate society to change to recycled materials.

Until we wake up to true value of materials, we will continue sleepwalking towards a point of huge market correction, where the true price of being wasteful with non-renewable materials will have a dramatic economic cost to us all, as prices of everything rise in a rush to meet the challenges we face from scarce resources.

i-plas has developed a comprehensive range of sustainable building products for use in construction projects for both home and export markets. Many of these have been developed in conjunction with major building and civil partners and effectively offer an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional methods where timber, concrete and steel are used. i-plas is in a partnership arrangement with Sheffield University who have also been instrumental in the testing and development of products to known industry standards.

Among the categories of products offered by the company are: bollards; decking; fencing and gates; kerbing; retaining walls and fenders; roofing battens and nailer profiles.

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