(Bloomberg) — Lixil, the maker of toilets sold under brands like Grohe and American Standard, wants to tackle a different kind of waste.
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A Japanese company has developed a new material made from recycled plastic and wood chips that can be used as an alternative to concrete and wood in everything from sidewalks to furniture. It’s called Revia and will be featured at an event in Tokyo on Tuesday.
According to Exactitude Consultancy, the market for recycled plastics is expected to more than double in the current decade to reach $56.8 billion by 2029, already used in products ranging from sneakers to shopping bags. used. Yet, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, only 9% of plastic is currently recycled in the world.
LIXIL, which sells building and plumbing supplies, says Revia addresses one of the challenges that have made recycling impractical or overly expensive. From PVC typically used in pipes and window frames to PET in water bottles, different types of plastic need to be sorted and separated before they can be converted into new products. Without testing, it can be difficult, especially since marine plastic breaks down into small pieces.
Any kind of plastic can be lumped together to make Revia. The company then shreds it and uses a proprietary binder to combine it with waste wood to produce a material that can be colored to resemble concrete, brick, or other building products.
Lixil says Revia can be 3D printed to make furniture, but expects the biggest implementations to be sidewalks and urban squares. If this material were to be used for all paving needs in Japan, the company estimates that about half of the plastic that Japanese households throw away could be recycled.
Reducing plastic use may be difficult in countries where individual food items such as fruits and vegetables are often wrapped in plastic. According to a United Nations report, Japan is the second largest producer of plastic waste in the world after the United States.
According to Kinya Seto, president of Lixil, Libya costs about twice as much as concrete. However, the price of traditional building materials is rising due to demand from China and industries such as fracking amid global shortages of the key raw material sand.
Revia “reduces plastic waste and at the same time reduces consumption of concrete,” Seto said in an interview.
In its latest sustainability report, the company says it aims to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 “by providing environmentally responsible products and services.” Lixil says the new material is itself recyclable.
Lixil, which has revenues of about 1.4 trillion yen ($9.7 billion), has not disclosed sales forecasts for Revia. The company plans to start selling the material next year, and when commercial production begins next year at its site in western Japan, a 30-millimeter-thick block will allow him to produce enough to pave 130,000 square meters. It is said that it will be
Exports are planned, but Seto acknowledged that it may take time to convince mayors around the world to pave sidewalks in Revia.
“This requires an ecosystem,” he said. “We can’t go to the supermarket to sell it.”
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