Tetra Pak and similar gable-top cartons have many advantages such as keeping food fresher for a longer period of time. Â However, one drawback has been that these polyethylene-coated packages cannot be processed in most curbside recycling programs. Â The ReWall Company, on the other hand, canâ€™t get enough of the stuff.
Iowa-based ReWall uses poly-coated cartons to make wall board, tile backer, sheathing, and decorative panels. Â One product,Â NakedBoard,Â 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,Â EssentialBoard,Â is paper-faced for additional strength and comparable to sheathing products or plywood.Â The paper-facing also makes it a suitable drywall substitute.Â Both products are light weight, rigid, and have a water-resistant core.Â Pricing is comparable to mid-grade OSB or plywood.Â 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.Â And, it is negotiating with recyclers and waste haulers to harvest these cartons from the landfill-bound waste stream.Â 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. Â 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. Â The manufacturing process is environmentally friendly to the extent that it does not use added glue, water, or chemicals. Â 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. Â 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.