By Simon Williams
TonerPlas By Close The Loop - The Never-Ending Road
By Simon Williams · August 17, 2020
Close the Loop has presented incredible opportunities for the print technology industry, turning used printer cartridges into a tool for the future. CartridgesDirect has long advocated for the work achieved by Close the Loop, recognising that the materials that make up a printer cartridge can be damaging to the environment but actually intact enough to be put back onto the production line or in the next phase of recycling. Rather than polluting our environment and having our printer cartridges incorrectly headed to landfill, Close the Loop intercept this waste process and puts them to work in other ways. Let’s explore one of the innovative ways your printer cartridges have paved the way for a more ethical future.
TonerPlas is a product and program designed by Close the Loop. It is a new resource that has confounded the construction and civil industry with not only the quality of the product but the origin. TonerPlas is made from toner powder that is extracted from used toner cartridges and bottles and then it is mixed with soft plastics from the REDcycle program (you can see the REDcycle bins at Coles and Woolworths). This unique mixture is then combined with stone and bitumen to make asphalt, and the end result is used to build roads across Victoria. Not only are these roads more durable and quality in design, but they are solving a problem by taking toner waste and turning it into a resource.
How you can support the TonerPlas program
Close the Loop is a Melbourne business, born out of equal parts frustration and motivation in seeing the industry operate as it had until 20 years ago. They have some ambitious goals to change the way Australia sees waste and turn these materials into valuable resources that take the pressure off our waste and recycling infrastructure in Australia. You can support TonerPlas and the work of Close The Loop by contributing to the recycling programs that make this possible. You see, post-consumer recycled plastics have never included materials like this until now, likely due to the complex materials and metals that a cartridge is made from. Although this is exactly the mix that is creating stronger roads, and it gives our vulnerable environment a reprieve from having to sacrifice virgin materials or break down these complex cartridges naturally which takes over 1,000 years.
Next time you pull a used toner cartridge from your printer, be sure to dispose of them in your Cartridge 4 Planet Ark bin, as well as any toner bottles that you might also have. You should also be collecting all your soft plastics so that you can correctly dispose of them at a REDcycle bin at your grocery store so they too can be collected and put back to work in the Close the Loop factory to mix up new asphalt. The correct recycling of soft plastics plays a big part in the success of these initiatives. As Close the Loop has stated before, recycling will only work if we the consumer invest in recycled products and choose these options over the less ethical options on the market. Our responsibility is not only to correctly dispose of waste but then invest in the products it yields, as an individual and as a country.
The national push for TonerPlas
When China stopped accepting Australia’s waste, our governments had to look to local innovators for ways to recycle our waste. TonerPlas has created 2,000km of road across Victoria, meeting the brief of a robust recycling program and one that actually contributes to the future growth of Australia, although we need to see more states come on board and make the switch to TonerPlas when considering our construction and civil suppliers. The time for ignorance has passed, as our linear economy has put our global environment in a state of distress, and only a circular economy can work to undo this damage and provide an ethical framework to recycle and utilise waste going forward.
Let’s be the difference we want to see and start ethically contributing to the work of Close the Loop so that our community can be improved upon using waste as our tools and recycling as our mindset. This is just one of the many valuable initiatives driven by Close the Loop, and CartridgesDirect is proud to be an ally to this important work. If you want to get involved or find out other ways the printing industry is reducing their footprint, contact CartridgesDirect today.
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