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An Environmentally-Friendly Alternative to Plywood made from Co-mingled Waste Plastic

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Ecosheet-PRO (An Environmentally-Friendly Alternative to Plywood made from Co-mingled Waste Plastic)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2015-10-31

50% of all EU plastic waste still ends up in landfill. This is in spite of the European Chemical Industry Council target of “Zero Plastic to Landfill 2020” to help Europe achieve the targets of Council Directive 1999/31/EC (amended by Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003) of halving landfill waste from 1995 figures. Unfortunately, majority of plastic waste within the EU are in the co-mingled contaminated category which are notoriously difficult to recycle or separate.

Also polluting EU landfills is end of life plywood. More than 300k tonnes of plywood waste is generated yearly most of which end up in landfill. China supplies Europe with the majority of its plywood demand. However, 50% of the timber used in Chinese manufactured plywood comes from illegal sources. Not only is plywood being manufactured with non-certified timber, but the glue used to bond the thin wood plies is of a very toxic nature. Tonnes of these toxins end up in EU landfills alongside the imported plywood.

The project objective is to successfully develop and scale up for market readiness, an innovative patented technology for converting low-grade co-mingled waste plastic into a cost effective and direct replacement to plywood in construction formwork applications. This product will meet the construction industry’s need for an environmentally friendly alternative to plywood. Existing solutions require single waste streams (not co-mingled) and are able to achieve the flexural modulus of 2500MPa required to replace plywood in formworks, however at a significantly increased costs (e.g. £150 vs £30). Ecosheet-PRO is able to achieve this, both technically and commercially. The ability to be recycled at end of life makes Ecosheet-PRO unique. Ecosheet-PRO will reduce global demand for plywood (3 million m3 in 2013 in Europe) and challenge the tide of global deforestation. This project would re-define a €9bn global plywood market and help Europe meet its plastic recycling targets. Ecosheet-PRO is expected to create 120 jobs and generate annual revenue of over €77.1m 6 years post project completion.
During the reporting period (SME Phase 1) we assessed the project’s technical, financial and commercial risks. The result of this work was a risk management strategy, formulating suitable contingency and mitigation plans for each risk ranked low/medium/high in terms of impact and probability. A SWOT analysis was undertaken for commercial factors and critical path analysis to control and schedule project work-flow whilst mitigating against delays, failure or overspend caused by critical paths. A market study was carried out in order to identify the key product features most valued by the end-user/customer. From this, we were able to draw up a comprehensive list of core features and rank these in accordance with competing technologies. The results of our user validation study confirmed that Ecosheet-PRO comprehensively addressed our user's needs. To make our exploitation strategy more robust, we engaged the services of an expert IP advisor. We will now be taken a number of steps to make our technology and brand more secure. Finally, we were able to undertake a series of validation tests. The results of these tests have been overwhelmingly positive and a superb affirmation of our belief in the potential of the Ecosheet-PRO panel.
The Ecosheet-PRO project will deliver a step change solution to the problem of landfilling plastics waste by developing technology that can produce extremely functional products from co-mingled polymer waste. Construction companies will purchase and adopt our technology to obtain a range of range of “customer benefits”. To realise these benefits for the customer, the Ecosheet-PRO project will deliver the following key results:

1. Material and mechanical specification for individual “component layers” of the structural sandwich panel (Ecosheet-PRO) required to deliver overall flexural modulus of 2500MPa and flexural Strength of 25MPa
2. Specialist compounding process capable of producing the required material characteristics using the three major waste plastic streams: Civic Amnenity, Film Waste, and Automotive Shred Residue
3. Specialist fibre wetting process that reinforces/strengthens the Ecosheet-PRO

Ecosheet-PRO plant will deliver huge environmental benefits. 8,500 tonnes of plastic waste will be diverted from landfill for every 250,000 Ecosheet-PROs produced. Furthermore, assuming a longevity ratio for Ecosheet-PRO over plywood of 5:1 means 42,500 tonnes less trees will be cut down to produce plywood. A mature Douglas Fir tree weighs approx. 4 tonnes, therefore 10,625 such trees will be prevented from being chopped down yearly. Assuming 50% of timber imports are illegal ( Ecosheet-PRO will therefore be replacing unsustainably sourced timber.

A significant amount of CO2 is produced annually from transportation (>100million kg) due to the import of plywood into Europe ( If we can secure just 10% of the market, then a significant amount of CO2 will be removed from the environment.

Formaldehyde, an essential constituent in plywood binding resins, have links to health problems such as asthma and cancer. Ecosheet-PRO won’t pose any health risks to the general public. Ecosheet-PRO can also be recycled numerous times, unlike plywood.
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