MIDLAND — Eco Bio Plastics will formally open its Midland plant Monday, Jan. 31 at 4037 S. Saginaw Road in Midland.
A Japanese company has developed a method to turn shredded paper into a stronger, greener paper-plastic composite, and Michigan Molecular Institute is helping to bring the technology — along with 30 new jobs — to the United States.
The Tokyo-based Eco Research Institute has developed a process that can grind shredded office paper to the micron size range; that recyclate is then used as a filler in thermoplastics.
Eco Bio Plastics Midland is the U.S.-based subsidiary of ERI, with MMI providing financial investment and technical support, as well as the development of new technology in the field.
Many types of waste paper have relatively short fibers — shredded office paper, for instance, or dust produced in the book-binding industry — and cannot be recycled into high-quality paper or paper products.
But by using the process patented by ERI, these cellulosic fibers can be used to enhance the mechanical properties of a paper-plastic composite. The presence of paper in these composites improves a number of properties, such as colorability and reduced mold shrinkage, two common problems associated with some commodity thermoplastics. Just as importantly, the ERI process reduces carbon dioxide emissions in production by as much as 80 percent, so it’s a huge improvement environmentally.
What sort of products benefit from the ERI process? The materials are already used in the production of some Earth-friendly toys in Japan. Other products include chopsticks and bowls that are robust enough to withstand repeated dishwasher cycles, housewares, electrical components and certain products in the medical and retail service industries.