August 15, 2004 | General


BioCycle August 2004, Vol. 45, No. 8, p. 31
Over 100 vendors showcase sustainable building materials, consumer goods and more at annual California event featuring high quality, competitively-priced, recycled content products.
Robert Feinbaum

RECYCLED products have become as much a spring time tradition in Sacramento as the city’s famous camellias. Last spring, California’s capitol played host to the fifth annual Recycled Products trade show — designed to “showcase high-quality, competitively priced, recycled content and environmentally preferable products.”
More than 100 vendors displayed products ranging from office supplies to materials handling equipment while 2,000 visitors, many from government agencies with mandates to purchase recycled products, strolled through the expansive exhibit hall. This year’s show was the largest to date. “We’re increasing our attendance every year” says Jerry Hart, the show organizer.
The focus was on sustainable building products. Some large established companies were back again from last year. These included:
o Kelly Moore Paints which provided information about its line of e coat paint products. These paints are made with a minimum of 50 percent postconsumer content. According to Kelly Moore’s Ray Julian, coordinator of the program, e coat paint is “remanufactured to assure consistent performance, coverage and color consistency.”
o Weyerhaeuser show-cased lyptus, a high grade hardwood from sustainably managed forests. This species of eucalyptus grows fast in tropical climates, allowing harvest in 15 years instead of the 30 years typical in the lumber industry. The company claims the product shows “excellent workability, machining properties, density, finish tolerance and overall strength.” Weyerhaeuser looks forward to lyptus competing with native hardwoods in both flooring and hardwood plywood.
o Paper maker Boise Cascade unveiled its Splox packaging system. Now paper comes in a handy box of 2,500 sheets that is lighter in weight than the ten ream cartons that offices normally use. Reams don’t have to be wrapped, saving packaging which has proved tough to recycle due to glues used in the wrappers.
o Armstrong, the giant floor coverings company, also offers “sustainable ceiling systems.” Acoustical tile that once fed landfills now can be recycled saving building owners the cost of disposal and putting the material back into new products. Armstrong’s ceilings contain up to 78 percent recycled content and used more than 4 million pounds of scrap material during the last year.
Small start-up companies showed some of the most innovative products displayed at the show. Among the most exciting were companies that manufacture fire logs from old waxed corrugated, interior mouldings from waste polystyrene, furniture using boards made from agricultural by-products, and cold patch from recycled asphalt.
Hot Logs, located in the Northern California town of Oroville, has been in business for two years but has grown rapidly in that short time. Most of its source material comes from manufacturers of waxed corrugated boxes located in the area – local retailers such as Holiday Markets and Raleys or from packing plants that receive fruits and vegetables in waxed boxes. According to Myles Decker, the company’s vice president of operations, “wax is edible paraffin, safe for fireplaces and wood stoves. We cut the boxes and chip the wax. Then it goes into a dryer. What comes out are pieces of cardboard and wax” that can be moulded into fire logs or sold loose as fire starter.
Hot Logs already uses a trailer tractor load of old boxes a day and looks to expand production substantially in the next year. Decker hopes to open another plant in Georgia and is scouting for locations in the San Francisco Bay area as well. Last year, Hot Logs found a ready market for its product in Yosemite Park, after officials banned wood collection or bringing firewood into the park. Soon, he hopes to establish retail distribution and move substantially beyond the current production of 8,000 logs at the current manufacturing plant.
The company expects a hot future. The logs are quick and easy to light, nontoxic, burn cleaner than most firewoods and generate 40 percent more heat than other manufactured firelogs. Best of all there is now a “realistic way to reuse waxed boxes” – material that has proved difficult to recycle, and often ends up in landfills.
Timbron International takes polystyrene blocks used by large industrial companies for transport packaging, and converts them into mouldings sold by Home Depot and other retail stores. Steve Lacy, CEO of the Stockton, California based company notes that “EPS (expanded polystyrene) becomes a value not an expense” for the companies that provide Timbron with source material. “We take a densifier to the manufacturer’s site and ship full truckloads back to our plant. The densifier squeezes out 95 percent of the air from the foam making it cost effective to transport. When it reaches Timbron’s plant, it is shredded and reconverted to polystyrene and then extruded as a millwork product. Currently, seven different patterns of moulding are offered but Lacy says Timbron will add a number of new profiles in the coming year.
The company’s current manufacturing facility has the capacity to take 25 million pounds of EPS. The resulting product can be sanded, cut, nailed, painted and glued. But unlike wood, polystyrene mouldings can be used in wet areas where wood doesn’t hold up well. The product is mold proof and termite proof. Its “unique manufacturing process allows a defect-free finished surface” which does not even have to be painted. With all this, it’s no wonder that Timbron sold 20 million feet at Home Depot alone last year and is looking to substantially increase sales in the coming year.
Baltix Furniture, headquartered in Minnesota, is a leader in developing green office furniture. As featured in the March/April 2004 issue of In Business, the company makes a variety of panels from sunflower seed hulls, wheat straw, recycled newspaper and plastics recovered from milk cartons. These panels are powder coated to provide attractive components for desks, workstations, file cabinets and other workplace furniture. None of the products contain harmful glues, volatile organic compounds or formaldehydes – so there is no off-gassing.
Baltix can customize solutions for almost any office situation and recently came out with a line of products for home offices — its SOHO (Single Office/Home Office) line. Not only are products durable but, at the end of product life, the company pledges to reclaim all materials. To show that it is serious, Baltix pays 10 percent over the going scrap price of aluminum and offers to find the “most environmentally sound next use” for all of its panels – whether that be manufacture into new panels, donation to a nonprofit organization for reuse or ground into bedding for agriculture. As founder and CEO Tom Heerman says, “we have designed the ultimate modern office workstation. It’s mobile, flexible and it is good for the environment. It is also priced moderately, so it’s a win on every level.”
In 1998, U.S. Cold Patch patented a new product which relies on compaction rather than evaporation for repair of asphalt roadways. “By taking full advantage of petroleum compounds present in recycled asphalt that have already hardened,” the company developed a product that makes repairs “much harder than the surrounding pavement.” As such, it is a permanent repair and doesn’t need to be replaced with hot asphalt. The product doesn’t use hazardous chemicals in its formulation and “dramatically reduces the amounts of toxic emissions found in storm water runoff.”
Two years ago, the company conducted extensive tests in King County, Washington that are expected to show the product is “stronger than conventional cold patch compounds and is more friendly to the environment.”
The message from this year’s show, according to Jerry Hart, was that “recycled content delivers products of high quality, products that are cost-effective and soft on the environment.”
The 6th Annual Environmental & Recycled Product Trade Show will be held at the Ontario, California Convention Center, April 6-7, 2005. For details, contact Mary Farr of the California Integrated Waste Management Board at:

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