Polyco funds recycling technology to convert plastic into eco-aggregate

THE Centre for Regenerative Design & Collaboration (CRDC) is building a new upscaled RESIN8 plant in Cape Town, which will be the first of its kind in Africa, following recent plant openings in Costa Rica and an upcoming factory launch in York, Pennsylvania. The goal is to complete the construction phase before the year-end and to be fully operational from March 2023. Once operational the plant will be able to process 610 tons of plastic waste per month into RESIN8.

Polyco has provided R7 million to the CRDC to fund machinery for its plant in Cape Town that converts unrecyclable and difficult-to-recycle plastic into eco-aggregate (RESIN8) used in the building and construction industry.

This is one of the biggest loans Polyco has ever provided, showing its commitment to Extended Producer Responsibility and is a significant step forward in combatting plastic waste in landfills and the environment.

“One of the greatest challenges of the plastics and recycling sectors has been finding ways to repurpose and reintegrate difficult-to-recycle plastics in the economy,” says Polyco’s CEO, Patricia Pillay.

“The CRDC’s RESIN8 will divert thousands of tons of plastic that would have gone to landfill or landed up in the environment. It will now be used to supply the construction sector with a high-quality eco-aggregate to be used in the production of various concrete products,” she adds.

“The Cape Town RESIN8 plant has been designed to be scalable and we aim to increase our production to 1 220 tons of plastic waste per month. Our ambition is to replicate the Cape Town RESIN8 plant in a further two cities before the end of 2023,” says Abraham Avenant, CEO at CRDC South Africa.

To produce RESIN8, all types of discarded plastic (Resins 1-7) is received from industrial, municipal and environmental waste streams. The mixed (and often dirty) plastic waste is shredded and batched according to bulk density. The shredded plastic is ‘pre-conditioned’ during a waterless stage that eliminates odours and then melted during a heated extrusion stage that produces an inert hybrid mineral-polymer. The bulk RESIN8 is then granulated into the size, shape and gradation required by standard concrete mix designs.

RESIN8 is the only material from plastic waste to improve the performance of structural concrete products and earn acceptance from the construction industry. Concrete applications using RESIN8 exceed ASTM standards which are the international benchmark for material performance. RESIN8 has been tested to demonstrate an increase in compression strength, flexibility, fire resistance, thermal resistance and acoustic properties. It can be used in structural or non-structural concrete applications, and “poured in place” concrete.

To date, RESIN8 has been used in the construction of 700 houses in Costa Rica, and in South Africa, three large-scale residential buildings in Khayelitsha and about 2 000m of roadside kerb and channels on various projects in Cape Town.

To test RESIN8’s viability as a construction aggregate, multiple concrete manufacturers partnered with CRDC’s South Africa team to test RESIN8 in building blocks, maxi bricks, pavers, kerbs, channels, and concrete pipes. There is no leaching, abrasion, or micro-plastic release after its use in concrete.

“Using RESIN8 decreases weight, increases or maintains strength, and increases the thermal properties of concrete bricks and blocks,” says CRDC South Africa’s CEO, Abraham Avenant.