Axion Polymers’ high-grade recycled polystyrene made from waste fridge plastic is being turned into millions of new sustainable pencils in the plastic recycler’s latest ‘cool’ product application.
Global stationery product manufacturer BIC is using Axpoly PS01, sourced from post-consumer fridge plastic, in its new Ecolutions range of sustainable wood-free pencils sold throughout the world.
Made entirely from recycled polystyrene, the pencil’s casing looks and behaves like conventional cedar wood. Crucially, this means the pencil can be sharpened in a conventional pencil sharpener and does not splinter.
Although a wooden pencil is essentially ‘renewable’, using slow-growing trees to make a short-life, consumable product is not a sustainable solution. Furthermore, the traditional manufacturing process to produce a graphite-leaded, wooden pencil is slow and involves high levels of wood waste.
BIC introduced the all-plastic pencil using a co-extrusion process for both the ‘lead’ and outer body around ten years ago. More recently, with increased market pressures to further improve the sustainability of the pencil, they replaced the virgin polymers with recycled plastics.
Axion worked closely with Ineos Styrenics, a leading global manufacturer of polystyrene resins, to develop an approved specification for BIC that not only met various environmental and regulatory standards, but fulfilled the manufacturer’s requirement for a cost-effective ‘green’ product that would appeal to environmentally-conscious consumers.
By using Axion’s Axpoly PS01, up to 640 pencils can be made from one typical UK recycled fridge. Axion calculates BIC saves 2,300 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions annually by using recycled polystyrene in place of virgin to manufacture its Ecolution pencils.
Axion Director Keith Freegard comments: “The recycled plastic pencil is a fantastic high-profile example of the closed-loop recycling of one widely-used household product into another. It’s also a really interesting story of product development in relation to changing consumer environmental awareness.
“Disposable plastic items, such as pens, pencils and razors made from virgin polymer, have been with us for some years. With general raised awareness of sustainability and recyclability issues, the next logical step was to make these plastics more sustainable – hence the use of a fully-recycled polymer from fridges.
“As a technically-demanding yet practical product, the pencil also highlights the versatility and innovation of current plastics processing technologies,” adds Keith.
Axion uses the pencils as promotional items, emblazoned with ‘this pencil used to be a fridge….cool!’ and is actively developing new applications for its Axpoly range of recycled materials in automotive, consumer electronics and household products.
Axion Polymers is part of the Axion Group that develops and operates innovative resource recovery and processing solutions for recycling waste materials. The Group works with a wide range of clients within the recycling and process industries on the practical development of new processing and collection methods.
For more information, contact Axion Polymers on 0161 737 6124 or visit the website - www.axionpolymers.com.