Building a solution: opening a plastic-concrete additives plant

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Founded in Costa Rica in 2018, CRDC now operates in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, South Africa, Mexico, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Hong Kong. | Image Party/Shutterstock

CRDC Global is turning hard-to-recycle plastic into a concrete additive in Pennsylvania and plans to expand across the country as quickly as possible.

In mid-October, the company brought its first commercial-scale US installation online in York, Pennsylvania. the question of plastics deserves such objectives.

“We feel very lucky to have a solution that can give a benign end of life to plastics that currently cannot be recycled and end up in landfills,” he said.

CRDC takes plastics and turns them into a structural concrete additive called RESIN8, which reduces weight, slows water absorption and improves insulation.

Build the base

CRDC was founded in Costa Rica in 2018 and now operates in New Jersey, South Africa, Mexico, UK, New Zealand and Hong Kong. The Pennsylvania facility is CRDC’s second commercial-scale plant, Gibby said, but there are three others slated for commissioning soon in Samoa, South Africa and Australia.

The company has partnered with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste in 2021 to help scale up operations. In a Press release, Steve Sikra, Group Vice President and Head of Americas, said plastic waste is a valuable resource that can be harnessed with the right technologies and solutions,” and RESIN8 is one such solution.

“Since we started working with CRDC Global, they have made tremendous strides in improving their process and perfecting their new technology,” added Sikra. “We are proud to travel with them to develop their technology around the world.”

Gibby said CRDC is also focused on reducing transportation as much as possible and estimated that to cover the “wide geographic area” of the United States, the company will likely need around 75 factories.

York, Pennsylvania was chosen as the first large-scale site because of its easy access to markets for building products and construction projects.

“It has major road arteries which make it very accessible,” Gibby said. “The other benefit is that York is widely considered an industrial region, I think because of its location, so we knew the infrastructure would be there to meet our needs.”

York’s facility is a bit smaller than originally planned by CRDC due to available building space. Gibby said CRDC did not want to build a new structure and the timeline to upgrade the building it had chosen with more electrical capacity was almost a year due to supply chain slowdowns.

The plant will have a capacity of 1 tonne per hour, and should therefore be able to produce around 20 tonnes per day. Originally, CRDC hoped to make 25 to 30 tons per day.

“We decided to go with the lower capacity and maximize what we could in that location, and continue to talk to the mayor about the expansion,” he said.

The company has already entered into a few purchase agreements for its additive, with Fizzano Brothers Concrete Products and York Building Products, and is in talks with several other local and national companies, Gibby said.

Additionally, CRDC has a partnership with Georgia-Pacific, which acts as a broker to obtain the company’s raw material, so that CRDC can “focus more on plastic conversion and processing.”

Georgia-Pacific has strong ties to MRFs in the region, Gibby said, which made York a solid option when the company was in the early planning stages. Since then, however, the CRDC has come to realize that mixed bullets from MRFs often contain too many contaminants such as glass and metal to be usable.

“Once it’s baled with all these others, it’s not extractable for us at this point,” he said.

Instead, much of the York facility’s feedstock comes from nearby industrial sources. Gibby said CRDC is also currently receiving plastic for cleanup events from as far away as Alaska, but “it’s temporary because our goal is to have plants everywhere.”

The additive can be made with 1 to 7 plastics, including multi-layered polymers, Gibby said, and can handle some level of organic contamination — like beach sand, river mud, food from municipal waste or paper labels.

The third raw material stream comes from CRDC’s “Bag that Builds” program, which allows residents to deliver plastics to the facility. York residents have responded enthusiastically to this program, Gibby said.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the engagement we got from the community itself,” he said. “If we had gone to a much bigger city, we wouldn’t necessarily have been able to have that much impact in the community or have that much commitment, enthusiasm and passion for what we do.”

Gibby said CRDC never really promoted the bag program, but the local Rotary club heard about it and got involved, spreading the message to other local groups and businesses.

A local business decided that it would become a bag collection point, then the mayor set up three other collection points in the city. Schools got involved and Gibby said people embraced him.

“It’s really gone,” Gibby said. “We have people coming in all day and they don’t just want to drop off the bags, they want to talk and understand what we’re doing with the gear, how it works. Some still doubt that we can take all they can put in the bag, and we educate them.

Seek to expand

Gibby’s goals are to expand across the United States and globally, as there is “considerable interest from island nations that have limited landfill space that inherits a lot of plastic waste on beaches. , and are tourist areas with a lot of visitors who create waste”.

Currently, CRDC is developing domestic partners to help the company expand into the United States “as quickly as possible.” Gibby said the company is currently developing a strategic plan for which locations will come next.

“It’s been a bit mind-blowing, to tell you the truth,” Gibby said. “I think it will grow. It gives people hope. No plastic goes to landfill, none gets burned and it won’t end up in the environment… it goes into the concrete that will help build their own community.

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