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Reducing Plastic Waste – Plastech Innovation Ltd

Established in 2018, Plastech Innovation Ltd  is a spin out of Durham University.

Plastech Innovation provides a solution to reduce the volume of plastic waste entering our natural environment by reprocessing it into aggregate to be used in concrete and construction materials.

Plastech Innovation was founded by Natasha Boulding, Phil Buckley and Scott Bush, who all met at Durham University in September 2015 when they started their PhD studies as part of the Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces Centre for Doctoral Training (SOFI CDT)

The original concept for their business was established during a Design Thinking workshop, run by Durham University Business School, at which they were asked to come up with ideas to address the problem of marine plastics pollution.  The summer school was designed to teach scientists about business and provided invaluable extra training which accelerated the business.

Plastech Innovation has developed a patent process to convert plastic waste into an aggregate for use in concrete and construction materials. This technology is a market-disruptor, enabling construction companies to partially replace sand in traditional building materials.

The addition of plastic into concrete produces a lighter-weight, thermally insulating and sound reducing material with some superior visual properties. This helps to solve two global challenges: diminishing natural aggregate resources and plastic pollution. The production of Plastech’s aggregate uses ‘hard to recycle’ waste streams, which are often mixed and lower grade plastic. This new application diverts waste away from landfills and incineration. Moreover, plastic aggregate can lower the carbon footprint of concrete and has the potential to produce carbon negative materials.

The substitution of just 1% of construction-grade sand with plastic aggregate would eliminate global plastic pollution. This technology will provide solutions to some of the most threatening global challenges.

The Plastech team have won many national competitions and grants:

  • Innovate UK Grant
  • FSB Small Business Awards Environmental Area Finalist
  • Northern Accelerator Proof of Concept Award
  • Durham City Incubator Programme
  • Durham Blueprint Startup Challenge, Ideas Challenge and Live Pitch Winners  (2019)
  • Shell LiveWIRE Winners (April 2019)
  • Bright SCIdea Award Winners(2019)
  • Thinking Digital Conference Finalists
  • Project North East Sustainability Fund
  • UK/China High-tech Projects Roadshow

We encourage our partners and supporters to share their examples of good practice in tackling the climate emergency, reversing ecological collapse and delivering a just transition. NEECCo does not undertake to quality assure these case studies, and inclusion of a case study on this website does not imply endorsement of the project by NEECCo or by its partners.

Some case studies will feature organisations who are involved in fossil fuel industries, or who are open to challenge on other aspects of their performance in relation to our objectives. NEECCo recognises that if we are to reach our ambitious objectives, all organisations and individuals within the north east will need to adapt their behaviour and actions. We want our case studies to encourage this process. Our commitment to achieving a just transition from a carbon-based economy to a green economy requires us to encourage positive steps wherever they are to be found. 

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