Close the Loop: we can always give waste a second chance
The reuse of plastic bags is nothing new, but the incredible team I am going to introduce you to has managed to innovate the concept of recycling. Close The Loop is an Australian company founded in 2001 with the aim of providing global businesses with exceptional solutions for recovery, reuse, recycling and sustainability. The company's mission is to provide safe models for item recovery items and specializes in complex waste. Close the Loop believes that the best way to recycle is to reuse. The process is to dispose of waste and put the product received back into the supply chain. One of the most innovative ideas Close the Loop has been able to put into practice is something called TonerPlas. TonerPlas is made from old printer toners and soft plastics that are mixed with asphalt and recycled glass to create high-quality pavement. What's incredible about this is not only the fact that the roads are made with recycled materials, but also that they last up to 65% longer than traditional asphalt. It is estimated that in every kilometer of road there is the equivalent of 530,000 plastic bags, 168,000 glass bottles and the waste toner from 12,500 printer cartridges. Instead of ending up in landfills, all that waste is given a new life that gets us where we need to go.
Closing the loop on soft plastic and toner powder In Australia, more than 300,000 tons of soft plastic is sent to landfill every year. Not only is this bad for the environment, it's a huge waste of useful resources that can be reused and turned into high-performing products. TonerPlas is the main ingredient used to make high-quality roads that last longer and require less maintenance than traditional asphalt. This additive is manufactured to fuse and modify mastic in asphalt so that its mechanical properties are improved: It reduces flow, deformation and imparts elasticity, resulting in improved durability. For every ton of TonerPlas produced, 106,000 plastic bags and 2,500 waste toners are consumed. Today, the company is ready to supply TonerPlas to every type of road across Australia. TonerPlas has been proven to increase the durability of roads, even in high heat and heavy use. How is TonerPlas manufactured? The soft plastics used to make TonerPlas are mostly sourced from food and retail packaging. The soft plastics are first shredded and then cleaned. They are then melted and mixed to ensure complete homogenization. In the first stage of processing, the soft plastics need to be treated at a higher temperature so that there is less chance of releasing volatile compounds. They then add another hot mix at a lower temperature, which mixes in the toner and oil, resulting in the final TonerPlas blend.
The Challenge Close to Loop also created the 1000km Challenge: the idea is that they want to divert more than 500 million plastic bag equivalents from landfills. They expect to build 1000km of better quality and longer lasting roads using this low carbon technology. It's a challenging project, but it would make road building sustainable, reuse plastic bags and create new jobs.
Written by Valeria Unich