News Analysis

Recycled Plastics Enter Structural Applications

The company purchases used plastics bound for municipal recycling and industrial waste streams, such as milk jugs, detergent bottles, and car bumpers. The collected plastics are blended using proprietary formulations, melted in an extruder, and molded into functional building shapes.

Recycled plastic and wood-plastic composite lumber is nothing new, but lack of strength has been an issue that has excluded it from structural applications. Axion’s technology, which was developed with help from a team of scientists at Rutgers University, yields an inert, thermoplastic material that is structurally much stronger than other better-known non-structural plastic lumber. Additionally, the product is rot-, rust- and corrosion-free, significantly reducing the need for ongoing maintenance. The plastics, which have undergone American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) testing but are not yet code-listed with the International Code Council (ICC), can replace wood, steel, and concrete, as evidenced by the thermoplastic bridge that was constructed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, last year. The bridge, made of virtually 100% recycled materials, has a 73-ton rating for tracked vehicles (like tanks) and an 88-ton rating for wheeled vehicles and is the first of its kind in the world.

Published March 1, 2010

Bragonier, E. (2010, March 1). Recycled Plastics Enter Structural Applications. Retrieved from