Sustainability – Fact or F(r)iction July 7, 2011 RICCentre By Tim Scott Sustainability, in whatever context you use this word, speaks to growth and consistency. As I was walking the Plast-Ex show, I was pleasantly reminded of the energy given to execute innovations toward this goal. Due to its limited degradability, plastic is a well-known challenge for the environment. Given the extraordinary growth of plastics in packaging; identifying and engaging innovations to deal with this growth is receiving much attention. While the word sustainability to some would refer to reducing waste to our landfills, others will use the word as a means of me asuring the affect their innovations have, or will have, on the environment. Many minds in Ontario are actively engaged in developing sustainable and innovative solutions to this complex and growing issue. Without naming names, let me share what I saw. A company with an inexpensive and dynamic plastics sorting and repurposing technology supporting the regrind and reuse of various types of plastics used in common, everyday products; not a simple task. Key to their technology is working with Categories 3-7. These are the more problematic of plastic types where homes can be difficult to identify … and they appear to do it efficiently. Another company who provides unique product designs for products not commonly made from plastics can use the lowest grade of regrind plastics to make functional products and keep the plastic out of the landfills. Some examples would be home siding and roofing materials, interlocking ‘plastic’ bricks that look remarkably like regular bricks, and of course decking materials for home decks, cottage docks and support pillars. Lastly, I was impressed to see a company who has developed a regrind and reuse equipment path in-line with an injection moulding process. Now, this may seem logical but the process is self-feeding and is completely automated; keeping the excess plastics in the path to circulate until all the plastic is consumed. These are just three examples of companies I saw with engaged minds developing innovative solutions to complex problems and supporting improved efficiencies at the same time. It feels good to have these people looking out for our best interest but more importantly, the best interest of our environment.