While some plastic and wood products are difficult to recycle, they are finding a new life at ReGen Composites.
The Winnipeg-based company is using their technology to take items like clam shell plastics, coffee cups, plastic bags and zip-lock bags and turning them into products like benches and building blocks.
“We have been creating a way that we can take material that traditionally has gone to landfill and we are diverting it,” Chief Operating Officer Michelle Gowdar said.
The company uses local waste from their commercial partners, and while they are a relatively new business, they’ve already expanded their operations. Gowdar said they processed 2,000 pounds of raw material when they first opened, but are now able to handle 80,000 pounds.
“There’s not enough being made out of these materials to be making a dent or a difference. Companies like our company have to come into existence because someone needs to start using that material to create things out of it or we will continue to have this overflow of plastic.”
Beyond increasing capacity locally, the business is also expanding into other markets. Gowdar said they will be opening manufacturing operations in Toronto and three more in the United States over the next eight to ten months.
“When we started investigating the amount of plastics that were out in the world we were shocked. And when we started looking at the numbers that are used in the house, the industry and what’s going to the landfill, there’s nowhere for this stuff to go.”
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Other companies are also trying to cash-in on recycled materials.
Wood Anchor has a partnership with the City of Winnipeg where they re-purpose trees infected with Dutch Elm Disease, crafting them into custom furniture.
“We follow specific rules and regulations by the city and the province in order to process the Elm to be used in furniture, flooring, mill work , art pieces — just about anything,” Shop Manager and Lead Designer Kellen Deighton said.
“We tend to work with the material and show off the natural characteristics of the materials and diverting these trees from just becoming firewood.”
The city removed about 9,000 elm trees due to Dutch Elm Disease in 2018.