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The True Information Superhighway

American Plastics Council
"Power of Plastics" Online Newsletter
May 1999

So your computer dies and you've successfully transferred software and data onto a new one, leaving you with the plastic casing and the electrical components. What do you do with it now?

Refurbishing the electrical components for use into other electronic devices, such as answering machines and video games, is a practice more and more companies nationwide are participating in. But what about that plastic used in the housing for the chips and components (which constitutes 18-20 pounds of a computer's weight)? Computer housings can be shredded and reformed into, for instance, plastic lumber or even mixed into the roads we drive on - a literal "information superhighway." How does this innovative process work?

Recently, a Framingham, Mass. Recycling firm, Conigliaro Industries, Inc. joined the foray into firms that disassemble and resell electronic components but with a different concentration. They focus on recycling the plastic portion of computers with, for instance, ground plastic materials mixed as an aggregate and integrated into an asphalt matrix products then used as a base in road underlayments. And in April of this year, they demonstrated a way to convert the plastics found in electronics into pothole filler.

Discarded computer and electronic housings such as these can be recycled into a true "information superhighway" - underlays and pothole filler for the roads we drive.

This innovative approach to recycling computer and electronic housings, such as copiers and printers, involves granulating plastics into a lightweight "asphalt-type" cold-patch mixture that can by used in any type of weather or temperature. Mixed with a proprietary emulsion formula, the resulting product utilizes approximately 20 pounds of plastics per pail (approximately half the weight of the typical patching component used on potholes) and accounts for almost 75 percent of the product volume. The patch then sets within hours, resulting in permanent repair to the road.

In the Northeast, this recycling process consumes up to 12.5 tons of computer and other plastic housings a day and the potential to recycle over 12 million pounds of plastics electronic equipment a year exists. The success of this program is drawing attention nation and worldwide and hopefully, with estimates that by 2005, 150 million computers will have been recycled, other communities will attempt Conigliaro's program. In fact, Conigliaro Industries' use of recycled plastic for road underlayments and pothole filler is just one innovative solution to the challenge presented by the increasing stream of outdated computers and electronic equipment.

Recently IBM took recycling of plastics and computers one step further - to the very beginning of a computer's "life" by launching the world's first 100% recycled resin desktop computer. In March, IBM announced that its IntelliStation E Pro, has all of its major plastic parts constructed from 100% recycled resin, something the computer industry had never attempted before in new system production. And once this desktop comes to the end of it's "life", it can be recycled into the roads we drive on. A triumph for plastic recycling from beginning to end.

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To view the originally published article, please click here.
"Plastics Make It Possible" is a registered trademark of the American Plastics Council.

What Our Customers Are Saying

  • The 1990 Coastsweep Kickoff was a great success thanks to your support! Although the day got off to a rainy start, it certainly didn't dampen the spirits of the enthusiastic volunteers that came out to keep our Massachusetts beaches clean.

    Conigliaro Industries contribution of adding a recycling component to the cleanup effort was invaluable. We appreciate your generosity and the cooperation displayed by your fine staff. Your concern and commitment to our environment and the community is a great example to other business leaders.

    Coastsweep Kickoff
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
    Michael S. Dukakis,
    former Governor
  • "Through Conigliaro's cost effective and reliable service, we've been able to provide carpet reclamation services to more and more Bentley Prince Street customers in the New England area. Helping our customers divert their existing carpet from the landfill after installing new Bentley Prince Street carpet and carpet tile has been made easier and cheaper in the New England area through Conigliaro's container rentals, drop trailers, live load pickups, and carpet reclamation services. Thanks Conigliaro for helping Bentley Prince Street and our customers keep carpet out of the landfill!"
    Sean Higbee, Sustainability Coordinator
  • Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital
    Bedford, Massachusetts
    Healthcare facilities generate the most unique and challenging waste streams possible. Atthe Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, not only is our hospital waste stream diversified and unusual, our potential recyclables are as well. Our facility generates and recycles paper, cardboard, wood, glass, metal, plastics, rubber, textiles, construction and demolition debris, batteries, fluorescent lamps, and more. If it can be recycled, we are recycling it.

    In June 1996, I approached Greg Conigliaro of Conigliaro Industries about developing a total recycling program. I knew nothing about recycling. Greg has a vast store of knowledge and an enthusiastic interest in sharing that knowledge. Step-by-step, Greg helped us put together a total recycling program.

    Since our partnership, Conigliaro Industries and our dedicated hospital "Green Team" have developed one of the most successful hospital recycle programs in the country. Our recycle program won the MassRecycle Institutional Recycling Award. We were presented at The National Recycling Coalition two years in a row. We received two Certificates of Achievement from the Federal Environmental Executive and we have been nominated for the White House Closing the Circle 2000 Award. In fiscal year 1999, we recycled 950,564 pounds of materials, an incredible 46% of out total waste stream!

    I cannot say enough about the leadership and professionalism of Greg Conigliaro and Conigliaro Industries.

    David Maine, Environmental Care Specialist
  • "Conigliaro has been a huge asset to the Town of Franklin spanning many departments in the DPW from recycling concrete buildings to expanding our Recycling Center offerings. We have added key products for recycling such as Styrofoam, mattresses, box springs and carpeting. Turn around is fast and service excellent."
    Chris White, Solid Waste Coordinator, Franklin DPW
  • Please allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for the very informative tour of your facilities. The courtesies extended to our group from MARSHALLS were deeply appreciated. I also found your explanation of each of the many tasks that you perform to be extremely interesting. Couple this with the sheer magnitude of your entire operation, it is clear why your company is a leader in its field.
    Thank you again. We were all truly impressed.
    Marshalls
    Cory Lovett,
    Maintenance Manager
    Framingham, Massachusetts
  • I wanted to take the time to thank Conigliaro Industries for helping us to recycle at the high school. Specifically, your company's efforts in helping us dispose consciously of over 1,000 old math text books is much appreciated.

    Even more exciting is given the success of the recycling efforts of the Math Department, Framingham High School has decided to recycle even more textbooks on a school-wide basis.

    Thanks again for your efforts. Keep up the great work in trying to conserve the limited resources that the world has to offer.

    Framingham High School
    Framingham, Massachusetts
    Jeffrey Gaglione,
    Math Department
  • I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your services. I appreciate your quick response in the past to all pickup requests, as well as your efforts to keep the rates as low as possible for school systems. You have been a valuable resource on recycling and related issues.
    Weston Public Schools
    Weston, Massachusetts
    Penny Theall,
    Director of Food Services

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