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Plastics, saint or sinner?

Plastics header

Plastic is one of our era's most discussed materials

Is plastic as bad as they say? Plastics expert, Martin Munkebo gives his opinion:

‘I think it is a saint because it is a fantastic material,’ says Martin Munkebo. Martin is standing on the floor of his molding factory in Struer, mid-Jutland, Denmark surrounded by huge machines which every few seconds deliver a chair, the front for a hi-fi system, a ventilation shaft, and a large part for a KOMPAN play feature.

They all share a common factor – recycled plastic. It’s commonly held that there are seven basic types of plastic, but Martin says the number explodes into the thousands when it comes to the manufacturing process, especially where post-consumer is the principal part of the mix. Each of the plastics performs a different role, the black tray holding the minced beef, the bottle with the organic orange juice, the jar of curried fish, are as different as coal, a pencil and diamonds.

Martin, Molder of sustainable playground panels for KOMPAN.

How many different types of plastic are in your kitchen?

The average kitchen contains 25 different blends of plastic. By the time they’ve been recycled into the pellets the size of lentils that are pumped into Martin’s machine, they will have been sorted, crushed, sorted, washed, sorted, dried, sorted, packed.

Black plastic caviar before being molded into larger parts of plastic.  

plastic black caviar with hand web

Plastic - a complex molding material

The KOMPAN BLOQX™ represent one of the more complex moldings. It’s a remarkably exacting operation that becomes harder the larger the item. A precise amount of pellets have to fill the mold and form under 2,500 tons of pressure for the BLOQX to emerge, uniform in color with perfectly clean edges. According to Martin, plastic’s bad name is historic, and it was initially, justifiably labelled a sinner. Early plastic was brittle and put to uses it was then ill-suited for, like spectacles. It was seen as a cheap substitute rather than a quality alternative to wood or metal and had a very bad reputation for being environmentally unfriendly. But now it is one of the most versatile of materials with the bonus of being recyclable when it comes to the end of a long lifetime.

The BLOQX™ panels are made of 75% ocean waste.