Waste products

Impact Laboratories has won a Scottish Government SMART award to explore the use of varied waste materials in the development of commercial fibre and plastic composite materials.

The Grangemouth-based company is a BP Chemicals spin-off with expertise in the research and development of plastics waste management. The SMART-funded research is expected to help create a range of value-added products from unsorted consumer waste.

Rob Meek, Impact chief executive, said: ‘The new sciences of environmental and sustainable materials are a very important part of what we do here at Impact. We all use plastic – day to day – and the time for its effective and responsible waste management is now. This new SMART award gives us a pioneering role in helping to make mixed plastics recycling really happen. If successful, it will open up doors and markets for the materials and for recycling technology worldwide.’

The main markets are likely to be in timber replacement, particularly in non-structural applications such as decking, and for all-weather purposes such as marina developments.

Dr Ian Vallance, project leader, said: ‘We are, naturally, excited about getting set to unlock the potential in waste plastics and natural fibre. 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.’

Impact is planning to work directly with unsorted domestic waste and combine it with commercial modified cellulose products that are currently not recycled.

Vallance added that the challenge would be in costing the new material against traditional timber. However, the funding is hoped to help the project address these issues in order to make it a commercial success.