Tetra Pak and similar gable-top cartons have many advantages such as keeping food fresher for a longer period of time. However, one drawback has been that these polyethylene-coated packages cannot be processed in most curbside recycling programs. The ReWall Company, on the other hand, can’t get enough of the stuff.
Iowa-based ReWall uses poly-coated cartons to make wall board, tile backer, sheathing, and decorative panels. One product, NakedBoard, is suitable for supporting tile in wet areas, or as a decorative panel when a design calls for highlighting the recycled nature of materials. There is no paper facing.
Another product, EssentialBoard, is paper-faced for additional strength and comparable to sheathing products or plywood. The paper-facing also makes it a suitable drywall substitute. Both products are light weight, rigid, and have a water-resistant core. Pricing is comparable to mid-grade OSB or plywood. The company also makes a ceiling tile product suitable for clean room manufacturing.
The need to get enough raw material has the Iowa-based company considering building a new plant near packaging companies. And, it is negotiating with recyclers and waste haulers to harvest these cartons from the landfill-bound waste stream. Currently ReWall uses 100 tons of material a month, but by securing material sources and with planned equipment upgrades, the company expects to triple that number later this year.
The production process starts with poly-coated cups, cartons, and their components. This material is shredded and then moved through a patented process that heats and compresses all of the plastic, paper, and ink into one product. The manufacturing process is environmentally friendly to the extent that it does not use added glue, water, or chemicals. ReWall is 100% recycled material, primarily post-consumer now, but the company may need post-industrial sources to get enough product.
The manufacturing process was developed in Europe, where PE-coated packaging was popular long before it caught on the United States. ReWall has technical product review, material specifications, and installation guides online, and a Des Moines television station also produced this video on the manufacturing process.
Photo credit: The ReWall Company.