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Why using PLASTIC Core Trays?

Why do we at Westernex insist on partnering with a QA approved manufacturer producing Plastic Core Trays using Virgin plastic, whilst claiming to care about the environment?

We concentrate on sustainability, renewable energy and resources nowadays, so we understand that this makes it challenging to understand why we still condone a product being made entirely of virgin plastic materials.

For sure, choosing the right material, design, and manufacturing strong and long-lasting plastic core trays plays a big role in reducing the amount of material waste we contribute to the environment – but first, we need to know the differences between these materials:

Virgin polymer (PA, PC, PP, HDPE; PS, and ABS)
Is the direct resin produced from a petrochemical feedstock, such as natural gas or crude oil, which has never been used or processed before. Keeping in perspective that delivering high-quality plastic core trays to the customer is absolute, it is imperative to qualify this concern with the realities of how materials are actually applied and used in their specific role.

Recycled polymer (PS, ABS, PA, and PC)
Post-consumer is a material that has been reclaimed after it has left the hands of the consumer. Such as a plastic milk container, detergent or oil bottle. Once used, they are taken to a facility to be washed, reground and pelletised into new post-consumer material. Post-Industrial is recycled plastic that never left the manufacturing floor. For efficiency, manufacturers try to achieve zero waste during the production process.

It is tempting to believe that if something is recycled it is more sustainable than something made from virgin material.

Sometimes – we agree, this is true, but not in all cases. We need to think about how the products and materials are actually applied and used in their specific applications. Do they need to hold up in plus 50 and negative 20 degrees temperatures and ensure the product being held stays secure.

How do we find a balance of quality, reliability, and sustainability? Is the saving real or only perceived? 

Plastic Core Trays | Westernex

Plastic Core Trays Comparison Table

Core Trays manufactured with RECYCLED PLASTIC

Core Trays manufactured with VIRGIN PLASTIC

Pricing

Cheaper price as manufactured using regrind from domestic or factory plastic waste. There is no way to tell how many times an item has been recycled (heat history) before and the actual makeup / chemical composition of the raw material itself.

Virgin material is 47% more expensive than Re-cycled and has been polymerised from natural gas or crude oil which has never been used or processed before. Most importantly it is made of the known source.

Lifespan

Prediction of 5 years lifelong.

Track record of plus 25 years lifelong.

Eco-friendly

Membranes made from recycled materials have a lower safety and strength rating e.g. mechanical properties. These products break down and leave microplastics in the soil with no one being held accountable for the clean-up. The plastic polymers are weakened by around 10% each time going through the heat process (heat history) which shortens the polymer chain and makes the plastic more susceptible to breaking and failing as the mechanical properties have been eroded.

Products made from virgin plastic can withstand greater UV attack as experienced, used and handled in the field. Resistance to UV is a vital requirement for core trays given the nature in which they are often stored in full sunlight. Therefore Virgin Plastic Core Trays are fit for purpose.

Quality

A piece of plastic can only be recycled about 2-3 times before it's no longer be usable due to the significant reduction in mechanical strength e.g. impact. In order to strengthen these recycled materials, some virgin plastic will be added, unless advertised as made from 100% recycled materials, even her impact modifiers are used to artificially bolster the mechanical properties which contain toxic chemicals, not great for the environment and can contaminate valuable core samples.

Products made from 100% virgin plastic, in this case, a polyolefin e.g. polypropylene approved for food use, non-toxic chemical, in fact very inert chemically hence it's food rating and clearly suitable to store core without interference in the chemical makeup when conducting ASSAY. 

Strength

Impact strength of 2.2 kJ/m2 is nearly 'A that of the virgin copolymer of the correct grade. The thin walls of a core tray will become brittle which will result in jeopardised the core. Aside from losing these vital pieces of core, it would cause an additional cost for manpower to re-box the cores into new trays which also jeopardise the health and safety of your team. Is the saving real or only in actual fact perceived?

Impact strength of 8.5 kJ/m2 for a polypropylene copolymer 20 melt flow.

Fit-for-purpose

Plastic memory as per thermoplastics is the ability to return to its original form when heated and or pressure applied. Recycled plastics exhibit increased plasticity and processability due to a reduction in molecular weight e.g. reduced crystallinity which makes them more attractive for some temporary products such as shrink-wraps and packaging. Recycled plastic also works particularly well for bulky heavy wall products such as children's playground equipment, building materials, park benches, decks and outdoor furniture. These products are manufactured with up to 50mm thickness and their lifespan is 20-25 years. It should also be noted UV attack is a surface effect, heavy wall products can better resist UV degradation, thin walls cannot.

Core Trays are manufactured with nominal 2mm wall thickness and only rime virgin plastic can provide this quality e.g. superior mechanical prime - core trays made from prime virgin PP have a proven track record tested life span of plus 20 years.

Recycled Plastic Core Trays

Recycled Plastic Core Trays

Unfortunately, using recycled core trays helps neither the environment nor the humans who work with them. The scrap core tray may end up in a landfill as its suitability for further re-cycling use due to the nature of a core tray, at best suspect. 

When we talk about saving the environment, we should think about being fair to labor and how to use their time and energy. In the long run, it is expensive in any aspect to use a material that would break down and mix with the soil in a couple of years, which would ultimately result in manufacturing more of these recycled products and repeating the whole process. This creates unnecessary work and is considered an occupational health and safety risk.

In conclusion, if something is made out of plastic it cannot be eco-friendly. Notably, if the core trays are not “fit for purpose” it will fail prematurely and result to be replaced in a relatively short space of time, both the cost and environmental savings are not genuine only perceived!  for sure plant-based products are eco-friendly. 

Westernex encourages everyone to use recycled products when it is possible, we currently supply Stack & Nest Black Crates Enviro RangeUniversal Flush Pointed End CapPlastic Pallets and Insert PalletsHole PlugsOctoPlugs and Survey Stakes.

We have been busy researching and testing better options over the years to find the perfect solution, but we will never rush this process and would not feel comfortable launching a product until it is 100% perfect and suitable to be used in the field. This applies to all of our new Biodegradable products: Clean Green Cleaner and DegreaserGreen GlovesSafe-T-Mark™,Ground Water SamplingHydroMARK®Bio Flagging TapeAlcolizer Alcohol tester unwrapped and BiodegradableNature’s Orange Pumice Hand Cleaner, the whole range of Northfork Biodegradable cleaner and Degreasers and our new compostable Plant-based Green Bio Bags, which are manufactured from sustainable corn-starch, a unique blend that provides the mechanical properties required for mining bags both in toughness and strength.

Plastic Core Trays being used in daily operations
Impala Plastic Core Trays used in daily operation

We are looking forward to new solutions and technologies such as C-ZYME® or Cat-HTR™.
C-ZYME® technology, which is developed by the French company Carbios. They have invented an enzymatic recycling process after 10 years of researching and testing and hoping to finish the project by end of 2022. This technology uses an enzyme capable of depolymerizing PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which is found in a variety of plastic and textile items and would be purified before being re-polymerised. Unlike traditional methods, Carbios’ breakthrough enables unlimited recycling of all sorts of PET waste such as clear, coloured, opaque, complex plastics, polyester textiles as well as the production of 100% recycled and 100% recyclable PET goods that maintain their virgin quality.

Cat-HTR™ technology is under development by an Australian based company Licella. 13 years of testing and researching to turn the plastic back to oil using the enormous amount of biomass and waste plastic, that go to landfill each year, melting it and mixing it with water then purify it with Cat-HTR Reactors™ and separate them as a high-value, low-carbon products that reduce our reliance on fossil resources.

There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it’s not really there.”  Bill McKibben

References and General info about Plastic

deltamembranes.com
oceanworks.co
qualitylogoproducts.com
nationalgeographic.org

Quality of recycled plastic core trays