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                           Polymer Facts           |            Coir FiberFacts

"Plastic dreamz -- a boon or a bane?"

"90 per cent of what they say about plastics being harmful are lies"

Is plastic better than paper? The Plastic Recycling Process

We construct our Preserve brand with environment friendly materials to lower our impact on the environment. Learn more about the benefits of recycling in our Recycling Issue section. Below is an overview of our experience with recycled plastics and sourcing recycled materials.

Overview of Recycled Plastics

There are projected to be more and more uses of plastics in our everyday products. Given this, the demand for raw materials will increase and recycled plastics will serve as a necessary source.

Most plastics do not break down with recycling. The recycling process does not shorten the grains, strands or fibers within the material and consequently does not reduce its strength.

Other materials do not have such positive recycling qualities. For paper, the recycling process shortens its grains and makes it more brittle. Paper may only go through a certain number of recycling cycles before it must be rejuvenated with virgin stock. Recycled paper's utility is improved by applications like paperboard, which is thicker and not as affected by the brittle nature of its raw materials.

There are two general types of recycled materials:

Post-consumer: Materials retrieved after they were used for the purpose for which they were originally manufactured.

Pre-consumer: Materials retrieved that were generated as scrap or waste material of a production run. These materials are also referred to as "post-industrial."
Fuel from waste

Because plastics are made from fossil fuels, you can think of them as another form of stored energy. Pound for pound, plastics contain as much energy as petroleum or natural gas, and much more energy than other types of garbage. This makes plastic an ideal fuel for waste-to-energy plants.

Waste-to-energy plants burn garbage and use the heat energy released during combustion to make steam or electricity. They turn garbage into useful energy.
So, should we burn plastics or recycle them? It depends. Sometimes it takes more energy to make a product from recycled plastics than it does to make it from all-new materials. If thatís the case, it makes more sense to burn the plastics at a waste-to-energy plant than to recycle them. Burning plastics can supply an abundant amount of energy, while reducing the cost of waste disposal and saving landfill space.

How plastics is identified.

In order to understand the problem that wide-spread plastics use poses for the environment, and what we can do about it, it is important to understand exactly what plastics are to begin with: what they are made of, how they are made, and why.
A material can be called a plastic if it satisfies three conditions: it's main ingredient must be a polymer material, it must be fluid at some point during processing (usually processed using heat), and it must be solid in its final form. Plastics can be made up of many different kinds of polymer, and can be processed in many different ways, but as long as they satisfy these three conditions, they are bona fide plastics.


Tthe basic ingredient. The main ingredient of any plastic is a polymer, a type of molecule that takes the form of a long chain. The word polymer comes from two Greek words, poly meaning many and mer meaning parts. So, as the name implies, polymers are made of many parts, called monomers or monomeric units, that are chained together.
Polymers can come in different shapes. For example, microwaveable food containers and Dacron carpets are made of linear polymers.

Soft and flexible shampoo bottle and milk jugs are generally made using branched polymers. Car tires and bowling balls, on the other hand, are composed of cross-linked polymers. All of these polymer types are long and flexible molecules, so they can wind together and tangle like spaghetti on a plate.

Some polymers are synthetically produced, such as nylon and polyester, while others can be found in nature: silk, hair, natural rubber, and even starch are examples of polymers (read more details about natural polymers). In principle, any of these polymers could be used to produce plastics; in practice, however, over 90% of all plastics are made from just five polymers, all of which are synthetic. processing plastics. The initial unprocessed mass of polymer, called resin, is processed into different shapes using a variety of methods, including: extrusion, injection molding, compression molding, transfer molding, and casting. Different processing techniques result in the wide variety of forms that plastic can take: ranging from thin films and elastic sheets, to resiliant panels and hard, solid three-dimensional shapes.

During this process they are also often combined with plasticizers and other additives, such as coloring, to increase their strength or flexibility, or to improve their appearance.

The pure polymer resin by itself may not always have the properties needed in the final product: it may be strong but too brittle, flexible but too elastic, or flexible and elastic but just plain ugly. Just like the polymer material itself, additives come in different varieties: some can be found in the environment, while others are manufactured. The amounts and types of additives used in manufacturing plastics are another factor that influence how environmentally-friendly they are.


Coir (coconut fiber) usage has become very common among professionals in various industries due to its versatility. In comparision to the remarkable reputation coir has established in the horticultural and agricultural industry, coir is relatively new to the landscape architectural and erosion control industries. Recognition of coir in the erosion control and landscape architectural industries has come from the fact that it is an abundant, renewable natural resource with an extremely low decomposition rate and a high strength compared to other natural fibers. In traditional erosion control blanket applications, coir blankets are well known for superior performance compared to other organic blankets. In most of these applications, long-term tensile strength in the blankets is not a critical design criterion. The rapid growth of environmentally concerned Landscape Architects and design engineers with their innovative designs has increased coir use in the erosion control industry. These designs incorporate coir products as structural components in the construction. This design expects woven coir blanket to provide resistance to shear stresses developed by the high velocity water flow since installation to development of mature vegetation. Therefore, high strength retention or slow rate of degradation of coir products in field applications fulfills the design expectations in these types of bioengineering designs.

It is normal for engineers and Landscape Architects to look for more information relative to their design criteria. Because of this need, there is a growing concern regarding durability and strength retention in field applications of coir erosion control products. The intent of this article is to discuss the contributing factors for strength retention and durability of coir in field applications and to encourage the use of coir products in the landscape architectural industry.

Coir is typically processed from ripe coconut husks which are dark brown in color and have been retted in freshwater for at least six months. The retting process of coconut husks acts as a curing process for fiber in coconut husks. Curing in freshwater increases resistance to UV (ultraviolet) degradation and also increases the flexibility of processed fiber without causing deterioration. During traditional processing, coconut fiber from cured husks is separated by skilled labor into grades depending on the length of fiber. The longer and stronger fibers are called bristle coir, and the shorter and thinner fibers are called mattress coir. Coir processed from ripe husks cured in freshwater appears dark brown in color.

When the ripe coconut husk is dry, it serves as an excellent firewood. As a result in countries with a high population density, most of the ripe brown coconut husks are used for firewood and the coconut husks available for processing coir are unripe green husks. Unripe green coconut husks are usually soaked in brine to make the coir processing easier. An economical way to soak coconut husks in brine is to use lagoons. Coir processed from lagoon-cured green husks is light brown or white in color. This coir is referred to as white coir. Salt in lagoon water makes it easier to process unripe green coconut husks. Needless to say, fibers in coir processed from unripe, green coconut husks are not fully mature compared to fibers coming from ripe brown coconut husks. Lagoon-cured brown coconut husks also produce white coir. Salt in lagoon water acts as a bleaching agent that can weaken coir used in field applications. White coir is, therefore, much weaker than brown bristle coir processed from ripe brown husks.

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