Lumber made from old fishing gear at Goodwood Plastic Products     Credit:

Turning plastics from old fishing gear and marine debris into durable lumber is building momentum from coast to coast and one Alaska entrepreneur plans to take it on the road.

Patrick Simpson of Cordova received a $100,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a mobile plastic waste recycler. He told Alaska Public Media that the recycler would fit into one or two 40-foot container vans for easy transport to local communities.

 “The technology is not terribly difficult. It’s been proven and the innovation is in the use of the net combined with the melted plastic to create an extruded recycled plastic lumber and the packaging into this mobile platform.”

Along with old fishing gear, Simpson plans to focus on plastic waste materials that wash up on local coastlines. He hopes to gather the goods collected in community beach cleanups before it goes to landfills.  Plastics come in many forms, and the kinds used in milk jugs or bottles is different from those used in nets or ropes.

 “I’m able to take the polyethylene and polypropylene and I’m melting those and then I’m shredding net nylon and using it as a reinforcement, the fibers, to create a recycled plastic lumber and then I’m going to sell that locally.”

Simpson says the lumber could be best used for decks, fences or roofing tiles.

If he’s successful, he could get a more sizeable EPA grant. He also plans to use drones to locate plastic debris on coastlines.

Elsewhere, Radio Canada reports  that Goodwood Plastic Products in Nova Scotia has commercialized synthetic lumber made out of derelict fishing gear and other plastics, using a nearly half-million dollar grant from the government. It’s part of a more than $8 million Innovative Solutions fund that includes fishermen and divers eager to help.

The recyclables are shredded, melted, and pushed through molds to create planks and posts for decks, park benches and picnic tables.

Goodwood now employs 10 people and hopes to recycle more than 22 million pounds of plastics annually.