As a member of the organizing committee for next June’s Zero Waste Ontario Conference, I took on the role of organizing the Friday morning panel and group discussion on the topic of materials and manufacturing products in the circular economy. The research I have done on this topic has introduced me to some exciting innovations in the creation of compostable material for everyday products, successful electronics recycling processes and techniques to recover and re-use materials that have always ended up landfills in the past. Here are some examples:
Established in 2008, the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre at the University of Guelph works with industry to develop bio-product materials to replace non-renewable materials in many manufacturing sectors, packaging, consumer goods and services. Commercial application of research results is a key focus in the centre’s work.
GEEP is a North American-wide company that every year collects and processes over one hundred million pounds of waste in the form of electric and electronic equipment (WEEE). Their goal is to keep WEEE out of landfills by re-using and remarketing the materials they collect.
Club Coffee has recently introduced to mainstream grocery stores the world’s first certified 100% compostable single-use coffee pods. Developed with researchers from Guelph University and coffee experts, it uses the chaff – or the thin skin of the coffee bean- which is naturally left over from the coffee roasting process in its distinctive brown ring. It has been successfully tested in American and Canadian composting facilities.
Based in Georgia, USA, Shaw Carpets has a collection network that reclaims almost 100 million pounds of carpet each year. Some of the carpets are re-used and the materials from others are put back into carpets and products for other industries. Sleep Country Canada has a similar recycling program; they collect and donate used mattresses to local charities or break them down and recycle the material.
Besics is a company with a line of compostable disposable plates, bowls and cutlery made from plant-based renewable materials that degrade naturally within 180 days into elements found in all organic compost.
Tyromer is a Waterloo based company which has developed a way to de-vulcanize scrap tires and make them into synthetic rubber, which can then be re-processed.