Shot in the arm

Waste no more
Can a New Brunswick firm make money from plastic and electronic refuse?

Bernard Morin sees profit in plastic.

That’s not unusual. The owner and CEO of Thermopak Ltd, based in Shippagan, New Brunswick, is in the plastic packaging business. But now the company is investigating ways to turn plastic and electronic material that typically ends up in the province’s landfills into products he can sell. “It’s pretty exciting. We’re taking a problem you don’t think is solvable and trying to come up with a solution that helps the environment,” Morin says.

Milk jugs are one example of plastic material Morin says Thermopak can keep out of landfills. He says most recycling facilities in the province don’t recycle the jugs. But like all plastic products, they can be recycled many times. Morin says the company has been researching how it can take milk jugs and other plastic and electronic waste and turn it into material it can sell.

What that might be is still being studied. But Morin says one possibility is a material that could be used at construction sites to compete with wood and metal products. The company is currently working on developing a pilot plant that could produce 1,000 tonnes per year of a composite material from plastic and electronic waste. Morin says the goal is to have the pilot plant up and running by July of 2018.

If the pilot project can produce something that Thermopak thinks customers will want, Morin says it would develop a plant that could produce this material at a commercial scale. While the venture could provide the company with another revenue stream, Morin says it will benefit not just his company but the environment. “I think we can entice people to recycle more because we’ll buy plastics and other stuff from you,” he says.

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