To-go containers, drink cups and packing peanuts are just a few uses for expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. However, this common form of plastic poses a challenge, due to the fact that recycling opportunities for it are not as abundant as other types of plastics.
But a company on the rise may have found an easier-to-recycle alternative to EPS, simply by producing foam from from other, more commonly recycled resins.
MicroGREEN, developer of the Ad-air technology that makes this possible, can use different types of plastic resins and expand them for use in various applications. This expansion technology means that as little as 20 percent of the typically required amount of plastic can be used to create a traditional solid plastic.
The expansion process involves adding carbon dioxide to the plastics and applying heat, but perhaps what is more important is what is not used: petrochemicals and volatile organic compounds. Ad-air is also able to process both virgin and recycled PET plastic, which is the world's most commonly recycled plastic, often used in plastic bottles.
MicroGREEN is looking to market its first consumer product, a plastic beverage cup made from PET, to consumer foodservice applications. In a study of hot beverage cups by Franklin Associates, the MicroGREEN cup had the lowest energy use and solid waste output when compared to standard cups made from foam or paper. The company also says that its cups are recyclable, meaning that the challenge of recycling plastic foam could have a potential solution.
"Our investors recognize the opportunity presented by Ad-air technology to dramatically reduce the environmental footprint of plastics, help our customers reduce raw material costs and transition to more post-consumer recycled materials, and generate value for our company and their investment," said Tom Malone, president and chief executive officer of MicroGREEN Polymers, Inc.
MicroGREEN also says that its technology can be used beyond beverage cups, in applications such as appliances, electronics, building materials and more.