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Environmentally Friendly Recycled Plastic Floors in Containers

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EPIC (Environmentally Friendly Recycled Plastic Floors in Containers)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2018-05-31

Producing container floors made out of recycled plastic coming from consumer waste collected within the EU. The idea of this project comes from the identification of a need to improve the current situation of the shipping industry, making it more eco-friendly and profitable. The objective of this project is to bring a new eco-friendly solution to container flooring to the container industry. Thus, this project will address an important aspect in the development of cost effective sustainable containers. In the process of addressing this aspect, this project will help to fight deforestation caused by illegal hardwood logging for the purpose of producing container floors and will help create a resource efficient, circular climate economy, as per the topic description. Additionally, it will also fight the growing problem of accumulation of waste plastic in the oceans and landfills, which leads to catastrophic impacts on the organisms within those ecosystems. The problem of plastic accumulation is widely reported and identified as a global problem.

Norcomp addresses the opportunity by using recycled consumer waste plastic to develop an environmentally friendly alternative to current container floors, while maintaining competitiveness on price, durability, and performance. Norcomp will utilise an existing network of suppliers of re-cycled plastics and producers of container floors to create EPIC floors that will be ready to be integrated into any container required, whether a new production or retrofitting old or damaged wooden floors. With EPIC, Norcomp will meet requirements of circular economy by redefining container floors to design waste out, while minimising negative impacts. Norcomp addresses many problems existing in the container industry while also adding to the effort to building a cleaner and more sustainable future. By using recycled plastic as raw materials we intend to develop plastic floors, which meet the mechanical properties and life time usage of hardwood and steel floors. The plastic floors upon mass production will be price neutral or cheaper than alternative. Usually, ‘green’ options are accompanied by a premium price, however, by our estimations EPIC could in the long-term be a cheaper option than ‘non-green’ alternatives.
In the Phase 1 project, we developed a business plan that will guide the future development and commercialisation efforts of EPIC (to be included in Phase 2 project). The assumed commercialisation strategy will take the product to the production stage – consisting of sourcing raw materials, transportation, and assembly, and finally to deployment. Our experience and expertise suggests that our container flooring solution has strong capabilities to revolutionise the container industry. We therefore want to use the SME Instrument funding as a platform to gain global recognition and become the emerging knowledge centre in eco-friendly, sustainable container flooring. The overall innovation effort is expected to take Norcomp to a new level of competitiveness and growth.

We are happy to conclude that during Horizon 2020 phase 1 our main goals were to;
• create huge interest among the 2 major customer groups was a success (shipping lines and the container leasing companies)
• receive an actual trial order was also concluded
We attended 2 trade shows for the container industry, one in Shanghai and one in Amsterdam, presenting our EPIC container floors.
When discussing with potential container customers we use 4 major USPs for using EPIC floors:
1. Proven lower maintenance and repair costs.
2. Keeping the same weight during the container lifetime.
3. Price neutral compared to wooden or bamboo floors.
4. Recyclable.
These points have enabled us to successfully convince a major shipping line, the French line CMA CGM, to order 80 containers with the EPIC container floors. The floors are produced out of European recycled plastics mainly from consumer waste in Germany. The recycled plastics come from different sorting plants located in Germany. The container frames without floors are now being produced in Shanghai. The EPIC floors will be installed in the middle of September 2018. The shipping line will evaluate our floor for some months before deciding whether they will use our EPIC container floor going forward. They have placed orders for more than 90,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit), This is described in the Phase 1 application on page 2. Containers are measured in twenty-foot equivalents (TEU).

While we have many potential users, our next significant challenge was to find a container producer. After discussions with a major container producer and with the help from our customer, a major shipping line, we were able to convince the largest container producer in the world, Chinese CIMC Group, to produce 80 containers. The CIMC Group manufacture between 1.5 - 2.0 million containers annually, this represents 50% of the containers produced globally. This is a key contact for our growth. It is important to note that container producers manufacture to the clients’ specification.
Our plastic floors were produced by SP Extrusion A/S, subsidiary of a major Danish plastic group in Denmark. The floors were manufactured according to our specification under our supervision. We are discussing terms for further cooperation.
The recycled plastics have been supplied free of charge by a major German company involved in sorting and supplying these type of plastics. At a meeting in June, they have expressed their sincere interest in further cooperation with us. We are currently finishing a letter of intent with them. They have confirmed that there are quantities of suitable plastics for our container floor project available. It is important to know that this type of very cheap plastics cannot be found in China.
The primary need of the user is to reduce costs, while maintaining high performance in application. Thus, the users want a product that is inexpensive, price stable, and that keeps the original properties throughout its lifecycle, while low cost to maintain/repair during operation. Thus, users are actively seeking solutions that fulfil the basic needs of the activity while adding a layer of environmentally friendly properties. These criteria are fully met by EPIC.
EPIC is made from re-cycled plastics that are traditionally price stable and the production process at a mass production level promises prices equal-to or less than the current state-of-the-art. Due to the secret mixture of plastics the longevity of the floors will match wood and bamboo while reducing the costs of repair and up-keep.

The overall rationale for EPIC as outlined in the Phase 1 application still holds true. EPIC will serve to aid the circular economy and reduction of plastic waste in the environment. Current approximates state that 1 million tons of waste plastics is available in Europe alone for use, which is enough to build 5 million Twenty-Foot-Equivalent (TEU) annually, well above the current annual production of 3-3.5 mill TEU. Utilizing these plastic waste resources to produce EPIC would help EU in reaching its target of 75% of plastic waste being recycled by 2030.

This project brings solutions to deforestation by bringing a viable method to reduce reliance on illegal logging and offers sustainable alternatives to produce high quality plastic floors. It also brings value to the customers, suppliers, and regulators of the shipping container industry. Through the success of the project, Norcomp will be established as a knowledge centre for sustainable container floor production. This will bring much influence of the shipping industry that has moved to the far east back to Europe. Finally, successful completion of the feasibility study and phase 2 production of EPIC will lead to substantial employment generation in Europe, for Norcomp and companies involved in the value chain of re-cycled plastic floor production.
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