Minnesota plastic takes roundabout research recycling route via Ipswich and Lowell

Via EREMA website

IPSWICH — A Minnesota recycling council has begun a research project with UMass Lowell and EREMA in Ipswich to see if they can recycle packaging currently being thrown out as hospital waste.

The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) of St. Paul, Minn., struck up a relationship with the Plastics Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Lowell to look at flexible plastic packaging, according to Recycling Today.

“The challenge with health care flexibles is that they are often composed of multi-material laminates, which are unrecyclable when using common recycling technologies,”Chris Rogers, HPRC’s project manager told the publication.

Researchers will “test whether commercially available compatibilizers improve blend properties when compounded with multi-material flexible plastics,” the journal said.

“Collection of flexible plastic materials, including sterilization wrap and Tyvek and film packaging, will begin at a number of hospitals by the end of March 2018,” it noted.

Around 2,000 pounds will be shipped to EREMA in Ipswich. That company is an Austrian manufacturer of plastic recycling equipment.

The material will undergo initial processing at the Ipswich facility on Old Right Road, which is also EREMA’s North American headquarters.

After that, the plastic will head to Lowell for further processing, testing and analysis. Results are expected this summer, Recycling Today said.

“Our end goal here is to help establish a methodology recyclers can use to process these flexible materials into recycled products and keep them out of landfills,” Rogers said.

He said around 60 percent of plastic discarded from health-care facilities is flexible waste.