One of the most common processes at any extrusion plant is cutting or sawing. During sheet production, and later during sheet design and processing into final products, it is necessary to cut the sheets into a certain size or form. Cutting by guillotine is possible only up to a certain thickness, after which sawing has to be used. The sawing process generates dust, which is generally collected and transferred to landfills as waste. The accumulated quantities are massive and can reach up to hundreds of tons annually, which accrue high disposal and landfilling costs for the company.
As part of our circular economy vision, we do not stop with recycling the waste created during the production process of our sheets, but keep searching for additional ways to expand the recycling activities and environmental preservation. We, therefore, decided to try and recycle the sawdust, minimize disposal costs and turn trash into value-added products. It is a revolutionary process unprecedented in the sheet industry.
It started with an idea
In 2019, Alexander Belkin, manager of Plazit-Polygal Bulgaria, had an idea. He wanted to try and harness the compounding and granulating capacities available at the production site under his management, into recycling applications. The incentive behind recycling dust was that transportation of waste materials to India and China became a challenging process, in terms of both the required documentation and spiraling costs. The Company’s customers were facing the same difficulty, thus the drive to begin recycling the dust was born. Indeed, after several successful attempts, samples of the recycled materials produced from the sawdust were already distributed at the K2019 exhibition and were received with great enthusiasm.
A ground-breaking move
Recycling sawdust is an innovative step, never done before by any other company. In addition to the challenges inherent in separating types of dust originating from different polymers, there are also regulatory challenges and correct documentation of the recycled material’s properties. These subjects are studied in-depth, and instructions are issued to customers to perform separation at the plant floor, which will result in obtaining higher quality material for recycling.
Xtend Dust – welcome
Following the positive responses and the success of recycling dust into granules, the plant in Bulgaria began recycling increasing quantities of sawdust. This year, an entire container of dust was sent from Israel, which was recycled, resulting in two containers of recycled raw material that will return to Israel and be used on Plazit-Polygal production lines.
The sawdust does not contain a single raw material but is mixed with a small percentage residue of protective films that cover the sheets and safeguards them during the sawing process. The resulting raw material does not have the same excellent optic qualities as virgin PMMA but has a certain opacity. The mechanical properties are not compromised in any way and are equivalent to those of the virgin raw material.
Recently, as part of the new product family of recycled materials launch, Xtend Dust, the product line originating from recycled sawdust, was also launched. Many customers worldwide are interested in the process, and a very large customer from the UK, that uses our sheets to cut vehicle identification plates, is in advanced negotiations for shipping about 250 tons of sawdust annually. The resulting recycled material from this dust will enable the production of new sheets, thereby establishing a circular economy de facto.