Company Turns Landfill Waste into Eco-Friendly 'Plastic Lumber'

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A Minnesota company is turning landfill waste into a new eco-friendly “plastic lumber.” Photo: Flickr/Samuel Mann

What if you could build an entire house out of the waste and debris found in landfills?

Envirolastech, a Rochester, Minn. firm specializing in the development of sustainable building products, hopes to do just that with its production of a new “plastic lumber.”

The company has developed a proprietary formula that uses different mixtures of mineral ash, recycled resins and solid waste materials to create what it calls a “true replacement for wood.”

“Ash is the number one by-product that goes into our landfills, whether it’s coal or incinerator ash. It makes up between 40 to 60 percent of every landfill we have,” said Paul Schmitt, president of Envirolastech, in an interview with local Minnesota news station.

The company says its products are made from 100 percent recycled inorganic materials taken directly from landfills and curbside pickups. All products are also recyclable.

“We’ve produced and developed over 30 products already,” Schmitt told CBS 4 Minnesota. “We can build a complete house out of garbage.”

The plastic lumber is embossed with wood grains to give the appearance of real wood, but it is stronger than conventional wood, the company says. It cannot absorb moisture, so it won’t promote mildew or mold. Products can be painted and stained like wood, as well as cut, screwed, nailed and milled with standard carpentry and woodworking tools.

The company says that the plastic lumber is in its tenth year of field testing and so far shows no signs of chipping, peeling or color fade.

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