What is fiberglass and why is it important? Learn about it here.
Here we have a material that is routinely incorporated into the very body of other materials, as a strengthening agent. It can’t be attached to the outside of cement, plaster and plastics. It’s inside of them and can’t be removed. So how would we design items like this for reuse, using the principles of Zero Waste?
This is not a trivial problem. Is there even a solution? It’s worth thinking about.
There is a principle that is quoted in the Principles page,namely that dissimilar materials must never be fused together in such a way that they cannot be separated. Yet the need for strength, especially with plastics, can only be served by incorporating fibers into the matrix. These fibers are not always glass. Increasingly they will be carbon fibers.
There is a way out, for most cases. It comes from taking note that the two components are not merely stuck together, as though they should be merely pulled apart. In fact they have become one new material. It is this new, combined material which needs to be reused in its entirety. We have returned to the analysis mentioned elsewhere for such as plastic car parts. If the material is made into a shroud, or a cowling, that cowling should be have a form which can be used in a number of different applications, including, possibly, later models of the same machine. The example used earlier was of a car fender. Since all cars have made use of fenders for the past 100 years, it seems reasonable that they will continue to do so for another 100. It is not that old fashioned forms need to be continued. Not at all. Fenders can be made in pieces that are put together in different ways, or their plastic can be softened and stretched into similar but new forms. We need to find the ways in which existing parts can be made use of in innovative designs, which manage to reuse the older parts. I am sure I have barely begun to find all the clever ways there are to reuse fiber loaded plastic parts into continuing uses. Much research will be needed in design departments to finish this work.