Unrecyclable? We'll bust that myth
A sustainability expert might ask us just how recyclable our biocomposites are and therefore if they represent the best foot forward for their product. The argument is that organic additives, in our case hemp or flax, can “taint” waste streams lowering the quality of reused materials. We are, however, fairly certain that our hemp and flax-based biocomposites would cause no problems in recycled plastic applications. The polymers we use are tested and the amounts of bio material in larger recycling streams would, initially, barely register. That all means that those concerns can hardly outweigh the immediate sustainability merits of including and supporting a plant-based renewable feedstock industry in large-scale material productions. Unfortunately, many countries don’t even recycle plastics. In those cases any bio-based material is a benefit. Considering just the hypothetical reusability of biocomposite material by itself is tough because the technology is new enough that there are no long-term durability studies. But a smart hunch is that the hemp additives, with especially good UV-resistance properties, will prove durable when used again. And we’re going to help prove it. In the picture you’ll see our DIY test. It’s 60 samples of a variety of grades – up to 30 percent biobased, recycled, fully biobased, fully biodegradable – attached to a wooden frame and placed on the roof of our six-story Stockholm office building. They’ll be subjected to dark-cold-wet Novembers, ice-cold Februaries, and hot-humid-sunny Julies. We’ll check in periodically to see how well the various grades are doing and whether we can still melt them down and reform them after sitting on the roof. And we’ll brag to you about the results. Place your bets. Forward science!