Former printing blanket salesman and letterpress printing tragic Stephan Peters has found a new career in rubbish.
Or more precisely, avoiding the rubbishing of recyclable plastics.
Peters' Pegras Asia Pacific business is leading a $1.5 million project coordinated by the NSW Smart Sensing Network to find ways of sensing and treating contaminants on HDPE plastic chips.
Four research universities are involved in the initiative, awarded $650,000 funding under a federal programme, which addresses residual contaminants in packaging which currently prevent 80 per cent of used HDPE from being recycled.
The project will see recycling companies work with university experts in sensors, polymers, systems engineering and environmental policy to overcome the contamination problem.
Peters, who is chief executive and managing director of Pegras, says the biggest problem in the recycling industry is that nothing is pure:
"Every bottle has a label on it, and every label has five or six layers and glue on it. This makes recycling a hard problem."
If successful, the project will be a world first, enabling recycling companies to produce 100 per cent recycled HDPE by eliminating the label adhesive contaminant that currently remains on the plastic flakes.
A consortium of seven NSW and two ACT universities, NSSN was established in 2016 with funding from the state government.
Peters was previously regional sales manager for ContiTech blankets in Bangkok, and is an active member of Sydney's Penrith Museum of Printing.
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