The invention mixes the plastics left over from ink cartridges and other electronic scrap, to create a type of "plastic lumber" which its creators say is weatherproof, rot resistant, and might even reduce demand for real wood if it takes off.
The interesting bit? The fake wood can apparently be "shaped and handcrafted" using wookworking tools. It's even been used to build a house, according to Lexmark, who turned us onto the invention. [Correction - Close The Loop tells us eWood was used in the landscaping applications of the house, not to build a house].
Creators, Close The Loop
, are pushing the idea as a timber replacement for outdoor furniture, sound barriers, and garden edging. Lexmark also says the plastics have been used to create farm fencing, as it doesn't splinter when broken and is safer for animals.
Considering how quickly we just went through our last colour ink cartridge, we hope this technology gets taken up fast.
Duncan Freemantle from Close The Loop tells us it takes on average 2 Toner carts (the big ones from multi-purpose copier/printer units) and 5 copier bottles to make 1kg of eWood.
Close the Loop recycles an average of 150 tonnes per month of print consumables, including cartridges from collection boxes in Australia and manufacturing scrap from overseas. A new recovery facility for the raw material has also been started in Kentucky in the US (the product is registered as "eLumber" in the US).
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(image source: www.closetheloop.com.au)
|This is what a high-tech farm fence looks like. Like a normal fence really, only made from ink cartridges.|
|An eWood seat, made from plastic timber.|