Our green technology re-purposes industrial and post-consumer recyclable waste that historically over-burdens landfill sites. We are the leading technology in extruded thermoplastic materials for the residential and commercial construction markets and the developer of a new recycled plastic compound. Our product is a universal feed stock used in existing extrusion and compression mold thermoplastic manufacturing processes. We combine unique blends of recycled resins, recycled minerals and other solid waste materials to create products that are 100% recyclable, weather resistant and structurally sound. Recycled plastics can now become a true replacement for wood. Our technology spans multiple disciplines, multiple industries and multiple products. With over 30 applications tested and proven, markets that were never even a consideration for recycled plastics are now achievable. We offer new building construction and consumer durable products as well as new possibilities to the plastic and construction industries worldwide.
Located In Rochester, Minnesota, Envirolastech Inc, is a developer of a thermoplastic technology which offers an alternative to wood or concrete in a variety of products and applications. Envirolastech’s goal is to provide existing industrial manufacturers with a cost-competitive alternative to enhance and strengthen their own products. Because we use recycled materials from existing/divert from landfills, our products are made from 95%-100% recycled inorganic materials and are in themselves 100% recyclable. All of the minerals used for our products are fully encapsulated. If that isn’t cool enough, our products also have physical properties that can be adjusted to fit the particular strength and building requirements of your production needs.
Our vision at Envirolastech is to reduce the several waste materials entering our nation’s landfills and use them to create superior and structural products. At Envirolastech, Inc., we are continually working towards overcoming the current limitations of recycled plastic technology today without compromising or ignoring the natural limits of our world.
ROCHESTER, Minn. (WCCO) — Let’s face it: Americans produce a lot of garbage. And even when it’s sorted, recycled or burned, truckloads of waste ash have to be hauled off to landfills. “Ash is the number one by-product that goes into our landfills, whether it’s coal or incinerator ash. It makes up between 40 to 60 percent of every landfill we have,” said Paul Schmitt. He’s the president of Rochester’s Envirolastech company, a firm he founded as a way to research, test and develop better ways to deal with garbage. The former building contractor spent the past 19 years experimenting with different mixtures of mineral ash and recycled plastic to produce building materials, or “better lumber,” as he calls it. The company has already produced and tested a wide variety of construction materials – from dimensional lumber, like 2×4’s, to railroad ties and landscape blocks.“We’ve produced and developed over 30 products already,” Schmitt said. “We can build a complete house out of garbage.”
His company intends to do just that within the next couple of years. Not only is Envirolastech’s product several times stronger than conventional wood, it contains no wood fiber, so it won’t promote mildew or mold. After 10 years of testing, the product shows an incredible resistance to fading, a problem for other composite lumbers now on the market. But what’s most impressive is the potential to help solve the garbage and landfill problem. In a city the size of Rochester, at over 100,000 in population, that’s huge. According to the city’s former waste manager, Geno Wente, there’s 100 tons of single-sort recycling that gets collected per day in the area.
Envirolastech already has the plans to build a sorting and production facility next to Rochester’s waste-to-energy incinerator. The plant would take recycled plastics and ash and produce marketable building materials — something that would make Rochester the nation’s first city where nothing goes to waste. “Our technology is just one part — or I would say the final part — of a closed loop recycling system,” Schmitt said. Wente, the former waste manager, added: “I think it’s a game changer.”
What if there was a way to remove plastics from landfills across the country, while also making use of a byproduct from coal-fueled power plants? Envirolastech has devised a way to do both: It developed a product out of the two materials that duplicates the structural strength of materials like wood, concrete, and stone.
Paul Schmitt, president of the Rochester company, worked with a team of scientists off and on since the late 1990s to develop thermoplastic compound pellets. The pellets are turned into plastic composite material that can be cut, nailed, screwed, drilled, and painted with traditional woodworking tools. And they can be used just like wood for building materials like siding, docks, retaining walls, and playground equipment.
There have been plastic composites on the market for years, but Envirolastech’s product is novel in many ways and addresses a lot of the downsides of artificial wood, says Schmitt. Thanks to the pellets’ components, the material is extremely durable. It actually becomes stronger in cold temperatures, confounding scientists because plastic normally gets more brittle as temperatures drop.
“That was the first time we saw physical properties that weren’t natural or possible to get out of plastics,” says Schmitt. “By altering different plastics and different molecular structures and tying them together, we designed a recycled plastic to do whatever we wanted without the cost.”
The material is the ultimate in green products: It’s made from 95 to 100 percent recycled components found in plastics and minerals. (One of the primary minerals used is fly ash—a fine powder or residue that is generated from burning coal in power plants.) The Envirolastech material is durable enough to last an estimated 200 to 250 years and it, too, can be recycled.
A general contractor, Schmitt became interested in developing new materials when working on large animal barns for the University of Minnesota. Stalls made from wood retained viruses and couldn’t be sterilized, and concrete walls could cause injuries if panicked animals kicked them. Existing plastic lumber just wasn’t strong enough, and for about eight years, Schmitt spent his spare time trying to come up with a solution.
In 2000, he started a company called PEC, Inc., gathered a team of scientists, and put them to work for four-and-a-half years to invent a new artificial wood from fly ash. The most abrasive mineral known to man, fly ash contains more than 25 inert minerals, including iron and aluminum. It and plastics stored since the 1950s together take up about 40 to 60 percent of space in landfills.
“I wanted to find a board for horse stalls because everyone said I couldn’t do it. I guess I didn’t believe them,” Schmitt says. “By pure trial and error and learning what happened when we mixed different ratios of fly ash and plastic, we found a way to create the properties we wanted to achieve.”
Schmitt’s team built equipment to process fly ash, created the pellet product, and developed a production process, only to put the company on hold in 2005 as the construction and investment markets crashed. By 2011, he was ready to bring the material back to market and started Envirolastech to make it happen.
The company isn’t manufacturing or selling its material just yet, but it has tested and proven 25 products that it plans to introduce to manufacturers for production. First up will be siding. “It’s not the most glamorous, but the public has already been educated on maintenance-free siding and composite siding,” says Schmitt. “We can compete on cost because the raw material is so much less, and it has durability, strength, and ease of use with standard woodworking tools.”
Already funded by a private placement, Envirolastech is now working on raising $6.6 million to get a plant in Rochester up and running and to build a second plant. Ultimately, the company plans to license its plants and pellets to other manufacturers, which could use the material to build their own products.
“This material is new and innovative,” says Schmitt. “I didn’t realize what I invented back then. What we stumbled on became massive.”