The French company Plaxtil has used its technology to recycle used masks into school supplies. Millions of discarded masks have been collected, disinfected, broken down into plastic and molded into protractors, rulers and triangles for geometry lessons.
The company was once a supplier of plastic parts for the automotive and aerospace industries; but after a charity asked for help managing a mountain of donated clothes that weren’t fit for sale, company co-founder Jean-Marc Neveu figured out how to break them down into first.
The plastic content of today’s clothing can be as high as 70%, and Neveu has developed a process to precisely melt used clothing into a fiber-infused plastic that can be reshaped.
It’s profitable; Plaxtil now supplies its material to manufacturers who are looking for an alternative to using virgin plastic.
When the pandemic hit, the company found a massive amount of face masks flowing in and out of circulation, which would provide them with a windfall of raw materials. “When the masks arrived, we were all set because disposable masks are pretty much all plastic fiber,” Nevue said. Market. “Now we’ve processed 25 million.”
To date, Plaxtil has produced 100,000 geometry kits, which French municipalities provide free to students.