Pioneering Recycled Plastics in the Lighting Sector

Businesses are increasingly embracing more environmentally friendly practices. At Condale Plastics, we’re breaking new ground by pioneering the use of recycled plastics in the lighting sector of plastic extrusions, demonstrating our commitment to both innovation and sustainability.

The Journey to Sustainable Lighting

In a meeting with Managing Director Michael Stewart and Technical Sales Engineer Mark Fenwick they shared insights into their groundbreaking initiatives. One of the most exciting developments they discussed is their experimentation with recycled materials, specifically in the context of plastic extrusions used in the lighting sector.

Michael Stewart said: “One thing we’re working on and trialling is recycled material. So it’s a mix of mechanically recycled compound material, which is a 50:50 mix between virgin and recycled. So it should process and give the results of a virgin material, but have a 50% recycled element to it.”

This approach of using a mechanically recycled compound material, comprising a blend of virgin and recycled plastics, is poised to revolutionise the lighting sector. By achieving properties akin to virgin materials while incorporating a substantial recycled component, we’re making strides in addressing the growing demand for eco-friendly materials in the industry.

The motivation behind these trials is to cater to customer demands for environmentally conscious products. Many industries, including the lighting sector, are exploring sustainable options to reduce their environmental footprint. We aim to be at the forefront of this movement, offering innovative solutions to meet these evolving demands.

Michael Stewart added: “It’s very hard to go 100% recycled with clear materials such as lighting, so we’re trying some compounds that are going to be made by our material manufacturers, which are mechanically recycled clear polycarbonate mixed from things like old CD cases and compound it with some virgin plastics. We’re testing it at the moment.”

Clear materials, which are essential for the lighting industry, pose a unique challenge when it comes to achieving high levels of recyclability. However, we’re addressing this challenge head-on by collaborating with our material manufacturers to develop compounds that incorporate recycled clear polycarbonate and virgin plastics from various sources. These trials are currently underway and represent a significant step towards producing sustainable, high-quality products for the lighting sector.

Mark Fenwick said: “Normally, historically clear materials were kind of a no-go; we wouldn’t be able to make a clear profile with recycled materials. This step that we’re making now is so that we can go and do recycled materials or percent recycled materials, and with clear, pristine, high-quality products.”

We’re challenging historical limitations and innovating an approach to pave the way for the production of clear, pristine, high-quality products that are not only environmentally friendly but also meet industry standards.

Chemical Recycling: A Game-Changer

In addition to the pioneering work with mechanically recycled materials, with our suppliers also exploring the realm of chemical recycling. Michael Stewart explained, “They’re also now working on what they call chemical recycling, where they actually physically get materials back to their base monomer.”

Chemical recycling represents a groundbreaking approach that could transform the plastic extrusion industry. By breaking down materials to their base monomer and then rebuilding them into fully recycled polymers, we’ll be on the path to producing materials that are on par with virgin products.

Michael Stewart added: “That’s where they hope you’ll be able to get the clarity back to the point you can only get from the petrochemical industry, then they will be able to chemically recycle back to the monomer, then rebuild polymers. Then it will be a fully 100% recycled monomer to make polymers that will be just as good as virgin material.”

The potential of chemical recycling is promising, offering a sustainable solution for achieving the clarity and quality that was traditionally only attainable through the petrochemical industry.

Pioneering the way forward in the UK

Michael Stewart said, “I think injection moulding businesses have started doing that, but I don’t know many other people who’ve started pushing this level of recycled materials in the UK from the extrusion world. We’re trying to be at the front.”

We’re taking the lead in sustainable plastic extrusions, aiming to be at the forefront of these ground-breaking recycling practices. We’re working closely with our suppliers, positioning ourselves as pioneers and “guinea pigs” in the pursuit of eco-friendly solutions.

We’re breaking new ground in the plastic extrusion industry, particularly in the lighting sector. Our dedication to incorporating recycled materials and exploring innovative recycling techniques sets us apart as leaders in sustainability.

As the demand for environmentally friendly products continues to grow, we’re positioning ourselves to meet these demands and hope to set the standard for the industry to follow. Our pioneering work in the UK is a testament to our commitment to a greener, more sustainable future.

If you’d like to explore how we can help you fulfil your next lighting project, then do get in touch and one of our technical sales engineers will speak with you about how we can help.

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