Kiwi innovation in pollution solution to address climate change

Poly Palace, the polystyrene re-manufacturer and recycler at Spicer Landfill is celebrating the 2015 Climate Change Conference by announcing the launch of a new 100% recycled under-slab insulation product, 'Ecoslab'.

"Of all the existing and new 'Green Technologies', better insulation is claimed as having the best cost benefit in reducing CO2 emissions", explains Poly Palace owner and manager, Mr Richard Moore. "Over the last 3 years we have been pursuing the development of 'Ecoslab' and now we are in production, so the focus on climate change and the conference in Paris provides the opportunity to celebrate what this globally unique product achieves."

(Source: McKinsey & Company Vattenfall Climatemap)
(Source: McKinsey & Company Vattenfall Climatemap)

Mr Moore's announcement follows the recent launch of a recycling scheme for similarly low value soft plastics. Plastic bags collected at retail outlets, will be sent to Melbourne to be turned into plastic lumber. This trial launched in Auckland will be rolled out to other centers over the next three years.

At the launch the Environment Minister Nick Smith emphasized the need for innovation with recycled plastics products"...we really need some great kiwi innovation... we need the innovators to develop the products and the markets for how we use it, it sounds easy, it is actually quite challenging..." said Dr Smith.

Mr Moore sees common issues in these waste solutions; plastic lumber (from waste plastic bags), and 'Ecoslab' (from polystyrene packaging). "These two waste streams collected and processed for export both have little value," explains Mr Moore. "Both products are applied to house construction; plastic lumber can replace imported rain-forest hardwoods for decking and 'Ecoslab' under-slab is locked in place under a house as part of a house construction.  'Ecoslab' under-slab provides exceptional durability and guaranteed down stream insulation benefits for generations."

As well as the CO2 mitigation achieved by better insulation over the long product life that buildings have, Mr Moore also points to the work of Philippa Howden-Chapman, professor of public health at the University of Otago, Wellington, on the health benefits of improved insulation. "It is claimed that every dollar spent returns more than $2 in health benefits."

Mr Moore manufactures 'Ecoslab', in the buildings at the public recycling drop-off at Spicer landfill. "We take the waste polystyrene the public deliver to us at the public recycling drop-off and we have commercial clients who deliver waste polystyrene in bulk" says Mr Moore.

"We use a production process that we have named 'white rock technology' to take waste polystyrene, break it up into 'white rocks' and then bond these in matrix" says Mr Moore. In this block form, the bonded matrix is ready to be cut into 'Ecoslab' sheets. "It's all done here on the landfill."

In 2014 on a tour through Europe, Mr Moore was disappointed to find that European countries leading in recycling, were still exporting waste polystyrene to Asia as a low value commodity. "It is quite unexpected to find that we are unique in the world in the process we have developed to take waste polystyrene packaging and embed it in the local built environment" says Mr Moore.

Mr Moore was moved by his experience of the history of Europe through its architecture, "We measure the progress of human civilization through our experience of historic architecture. Will the history of the early 21st century consumer society be measured by the scale of our landfills, and by our contribution to global warming?" asks Mr Moore," Or will we be judged by the innovative uses we develop to get long term use and benefit from what appear to be valueless 'end of life' materials?"