Technical Report #19 - Chelsea Center for Recycling and Economic ...
plastics, while improving the thermal stability and strength characteristics of theirproduct. (Note: it is the opinion of the authors of this report that many producers ofplastic products have not considered the benefits of replacing some of their plasticresin with wood particles.)- Contact current compounders and recyclers of plastic and wood products.- Obtain the advice of scientists and product development personnel at the U.S. ForestProducts Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin.2. Specific Product Recommendations for MassachusettsBased on the data presented previously in this report, we will now examine specificproduct areas and comment on their appropriateness for a business start-up in Massachusetts.Please also refer to the data presented earlier in Table 14: Current Uses for Wood-plastic Composites,Companies Involved, and Estimated Sales.Automotive Components: Not Recommended: Automotive components are best left to theautomotive industry. The approval procedure is incredibly rigorous. Start-ups have almost nochance of breaking into the established chain of approved suppliers. Typical product developmentlead times are three to five years, a long time for a start-up to forgo cash flow. In addition,wood-plastic composite growth in the automotive area is flat.Consumer Goods and Housewares: Not Recommended: Marketing and selling consumer goodsand housewares are completely different issues than making products from recycled materials.Consumer goods and housewares manufacturers using composites do not market them as recycled,but use the composites for some particular attribute (usually appearance) to help differentiatetheir products in this crowded market.Windows and Doors: Not Recommended: While many window and door manufacturers aretaking advantage of the performance attributes of composite materials, like consumer goods andhousewares described above, selling and marketing these products are a completely different setof issues than making a composite product. The rigorous testing and code approvals needed forwindows and doors would prevent all but the most robustly funded start-ups from entry.Compounding: Recommended: Supplying specialty compounds to makers of finished goods isexperiencing modest growth. Some of the aforementioned products are made from compounds.Compounding will be discussed more in-depth in the following section.Products and Technology Developed by Dr. Alan Marra: Recommended: Dr. Marra has developedtechnology for producing a broad range of products as previously described. In some cases,additional investigation is necessary to assess manufacturing economics and gather additionalmarket information. The potential impact of his technology on the sustained use of our forest resources,related opportunities to enhance rural employment, and the economic impact of usinghis low-investment technology warrant pursuit (see Section VI.8 and Appendix M).46
Composite Decking: Recommended: Of all of the markets using composites, composite deckingis experiencing the greatest growth. While these products need to undergo rigorous testing forcode approval, it may be within the realm of a well-funded start-up. Composite decking will bediscussed more in-depth in the next section.A. CompoundingCompounding consists of melting plastic, blending in the filler material, pelletizing the moltenmixture, and cooling and packaging the pelletized composite. Other manufacturers convertthe pelletized composite into finished goods using conventional plastics equipment. Users ofcompounds include the manufacturers of consumer good and housewares, windows and doors,automotive products, and some construction products. Some of the compound users purchasestandard products from specialists in this area. Others have worked with these specialists to developformulations specific to their application. Still others make use of compounds developedby non-specialists.i. Compounding CompetitionThere are currently two specialists in wood-filled plastic compounds, Natural Fiber Compositesand North Wood Plastics.Natural Fiber Composites: Started in 1996, NFC has one compounding line with an annualcapacity of about 8 million pounds. They use a compounding line supplied by Davis Standardwith a water cooling system to cool the pelletized feedstock. Because their compounds pickup water during the cooling step, NFC also has a large capacity dryer to remove the moisturefrom the pelletized compounds before packaging. NFC supplies many of the consumer goodsand housewares users with wood-filled PP compounds. NFC also supplies some wood-filled PSto the window industry. They are a leader in competitively priced products in the wood-filledplastic compounding industry and are located in Baraboo, Wisconsin.North Wood Plastics: Started in 1997, NWP has a compounding line supplied by ICMA,an Italian equipment manufacturer with a long history of wood-filled plastic experience (ICMAco-developed Woodstock). Their annual capacity is similar to Natural Fiber Composites. NWP’spelletizing system uses air to cool the pellets and additional drying is not needed before packaging.NWP supplies most of the high-tech applications for compounding, like hot tub siding,automotive interior substrates, and window and door lineals. Their technical skill in formulationdevelopment, and overall experience make them a worthy competitor. North Wood Plastics islocated in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.Others: At least one other conventional compounder also offers wood-filled plastic compoundsto supplement their mineral and glass filled compound lines. Hi-Tech Plastics in Hebron,Kentucky, offers a line of wood flour-filled PP, PE, and PS. Two other companies that are in astart-up or R&D phase are Global Resource Technologies, in Madison, Wisconsin, and PinnacleTechnologies in Lawrence, Kansas.47
AN INVESTIGATION OF THE POTENTIAL T