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Impact Laboratories has won Smart funding from the Scottish government to help study the use of varied waste materials in the development of a fibre/plastic composite material for commercial use.

Impact, the Grangemouth BP Chemicals spin off, has a wealth of polymer and plastics-based knowledge that has put the company in pole position to pioneer this research and development in plastics waste management.

Impact’s new Smart-funded research will help create new and value-added products from the unsorted consumer waste stream.

Leading applications are likely to be in the timber-replacement markets, where such composites can be used as alternatives to traditional timber, particularly in non-structural applications such as decking and in other all-weather conditions such as marina developments.

Impact can work directly with unsorted and domestic (for example black bag) waste and combines some of the outputs from this stream together with selected commercial modified cellulose products that are currently not recycled.

Dr Ian Vallance at Impact will lead the project.

He said: ‘New mass-treatment technologies are being introduced to deal with unsorted domestic waste and these, combined with automated sorting technologies, will produce huge volumes of sorted waste streams on a previously unprecedented scale.

‘Impact will aim to develop uses for products that have previously been too difficult to recycle – thus saving them from landfill.’ Developing markets for these second-use materials is critical.

Vallance added: ‘The key factor for their success is the effective pricing of this new product against traditional timber.

‘Despite having an all-weathering advantage for outdoor applications, the composite must be cost-competitive with currently available alternatives in order for this work to succeed.’

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