Waste Reduction Week: Thursday – Plastics

Rethinking the global plastics system: A business leader who turns a vision into reality with recycled plastic

Grant Harrington has been manufacturing products using post-consumer waste plastic for almost two decades. Together with his original partner, he started the business 16-years ago when they bought their first equipment from a firm in Edmonton to make plastic lumber. Grant’s efforts align with what today is called “the new plastic economy” – a movement that aims to rethink the way we produce, use and recover plastic. However, his vision to create a company where plastics are repurposed into a new product hasn’t been an easy road and “took a lot of years to get it right” said Grant.

The production method is called Flow Molding, which means they melt the plastic and flow it into molds to produce insert beams, fence posts, parking curbs, and barrier posts. The products are 100% post-consumer and at least 60% post-industrial high-density polyethylene (HDPE). They are very selective from where they get their plastic, “because a lot of it is very dirty”, said Grant. Most of the plastic they receive comes from City of Lethbridge, Canmore, Medicine Hat, Town of Vulcan and Camrose.

Fence posts made from Flow Molding (photo credit: APRA)

Fence posts made from Flow Molding (photo credit: APRA)

According to The New Plastics Economy Catalysing Action 2017 Report, “only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling globally. Each year, USD $80-120 billion plastic packaging material value is lost to the economy.” Grant Harrington’s business is a notable example of a system that is moving towards transforming the current take-make-dispose economy into one where plastics are used once again. However, the implementation of standards requiring plastic collectors to purchase products back, will promote sustainable consumption and production in the plastics industry.  Grant indicated that “the only way to get Canadian cities, town and villages to buy our product is to insist if they are going to send us their plastic, they must buy some products back.”

To find out more, contact Grant Harrington at 403.329.1713 or gh@west-can.com