Plastic pollution is a HUGE problem and contributor to climate change. Single use plastics especially cause major issues, and the vast majority of those plastics don’t get recycled.
I was absolutely THRILLED to find out about [Re]Waste in Edmonton – a small business that is diverting plastic from landfills and making recycled plastic products!
I had a chance to ask the founder and CEO of [Re]Waste, Corey Saban, some questions about how he got started, and what [Re]Waste is doing!
What made you decide to start [Re] Waste?
I was in construction for the past 10 years and always thought something could be done with the waste generated from a construction project. At the start of COVID, I was laid off like many people in Edmonton and Alberta, and I thought I could use the time spent at home with my family to start working on my new passion project – repurposing plastic waste. My wife and I have 3 young kids and produce quite a bit of plastic waste. So I thought, why not try to repurpose some of the plastic waste from our house?
How do you recycle the plastic you collect?
The first step is to sort the plastic by type (there are 7 types of post consumer plastic). Then I’ll take the plastic and wash it to ensure all the contaminants are removed. The next step is the most challenging which involves removing the labels and adhesives from the plastic. Once the plastic is considered clean then I will shred it to produce a plastic flake. The plastic flake is now the “raw material” that is used to start every project.
Where are you getting the plastic from?
Plastic early on was collected from my house, then friends and family. As I started to accumulate more and more plastic from friends and family, I had to stop that collection because I had nowhere to store it and couldn’t convert it into products fast enough.
I was given 300-500 hand sanitizing wipe containers that filled up the garage and shed and I never thought I would see an end in sight, but I can definitely see an end in sight for those containers now.
Sherwin Williams contacted me to take their paint pail lids which were clean, high quality plastic.
Beaumont Pilot Project: I collected 275 pounds of plastic over 3 weeks. This plastic is not all clean so I only take from that pile when I need a certain colour of plastic. The plastic will be sent to an equipment supplier that has a cleaning process to show me that their equipment will clean the plastic and flake it. The plastic also allowed me to collect as much data as I could to provide the City of Beaumont with a report on their post consumer plastics.
Can people save their plastic for you to use? *puts hand up and waves wildly*
As much as I would love to say yes, the answer is no. Unfortunately the small operation and the stockpile of plastic I have now doesn’t allow for any more collection. I do have plans to scale the business which will allow more room for plastic, so hopefully we will be able to say “yes” in the near future.
What kinds of products are you making?
I have a few pieces of equipment that allow me to make different products:
Injection machine: This is a process that uses high pressure to inject the molten plastic into a mold. I have a few different mold shapes such as a circle, hexagon, star and comb.
- The circle tiles have been marketed as coasters. The variety pack is our best seller.
- Hexagon tiles have a few different applications. They can be used as coasters similar to the circles. They can also be used for backsplash or wall tile. We did a project with Goodwill’s Impact Centre to use the hexagon tiles as wall protection in the Impact Centre store. We made about 60 tiles and fastened them to a wall that was damaged from shopping carts or baskets- so the paint was peeling and the drywall was dented and damaged. So we covered a section with hexagon tiles. These particular tiles were made with Goodwill’s plastic flake. The plastic products that do not sell in their stores within 4 weeks are granulated and turned into plastic flake. We created a circular economy within Goodwill.
- I haven’t done too much with star tiles since I don’t have a useful application, but maybe someone will want plastic stars in the future.
- We have been producing a few plastic combs and will be updating the mold to start producing combs that are a bit more functional and start selling them through retailers and wholesalers.
Plastic sheets: I use griddles and sandwich presses to produce plastic sheets. The plastic sheets have a lot of applications.
- Goodwill Wall Protection. After we installed 60 tiles, I realized it was way too manual of a process and too time consuming so I started melting plastic between two griddles and producing larger sheets. So 1 sheet covers the same area as 12 hexagon tiles with a fraction of the labour to produce/ install.
- Wall Tile/ Backsplash: We are able to produce bigger sheets and then cut the sheets down to a standard tile size.
- Shelves: I am in the process of building a shelf with the plastic sheets.
- Hair Clips: I purchased plain metal gator clips and I glued a strip of plastic on to see how it would look/ function. It looks awesome and functions quite well. We will look at selling this alongside the combs.
Bags: We turn Amazon bags, frozen fruit bags, chip bags, and Teddy Graham bags into sustainable functional bags with a liner and zipper. This was an early proof of concept idea to show that even soft plastics can be repurposed. So I did some prototypes and received orders. I had to have my mom and her friend help fulfil some orders!
It looks like the short journey you’ve been on has already involved a lot of innovation and creativity. What’s coming up for you in 2021?
Focusing on providing more examples of how plastic can be utilized. For example, I was producing a lot of coasters, especially during the Christmas rush, and people were asking what other applications plastic can be used for. So this year I will be focusing on showing how versatile plastic can be.
Also, another focus will be to finalize the plans to move out of the garage and scale up. We have some great partners to date and more that want to collaborate, so to serve them better we need to grow and get specialized equipment that can keep up with the demand.
I also think there is an opportunity to shift the focus from plastic as being a bad product that is destroying our environment to becoming a valuable resource. Plastic in itself is not bad; the way we handle it is.
I’m really excited to see what innovations [Re]Waste comes up with to use plastic and keep it out of landfills!
You can win a variety pack of circle coasters from [Re]Waste!
You can enter on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, or ALL 3! All entries will be pooled and a winner randomly selected.
- Like THIS POST.
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Share this post to your IG story for a bonus entry! (Be sure to tag @juicygreenmom so I see it!)
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