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Plastics Today: Save trees—use recycled-plastic railroad ties

Posted on Monday, April 22, 2019 by Julie Dion

Save trees—use recycled-plastic railroad ties


Don’t use new trees—use IntegriTies! IntegriCo Composites (Sarepta, LA) strives to protect the planet by offering a more environmental alternative to wooden railroad ties, called IntegriTies. These composite rail ties are made from landfill-bound recyclable plastics, saving 25,000 trees in 2018, according to the company.

“We’re proud to remain at the forefront of responsible manufacturing,” said Scott Mack, IntegriCo CEO. “Through building long-lasting and versatile IntegriTies, we offer railroads an option to the traditional wooden tie.”

The United States cuts down approximately six million trees annually to replace 24 million wooden ties on 200,000 miles of railroad tracks. Trees are vital to air quality, but factors like deforestation threaten the important role of trees around the world, said the company.

Each April 22, Earth Day raises awareness of environmental protection, including of an estimated 60,000 different species of trees. One 80-year-old oak tree will, on average, make four railroad ties. One mile of railroad track uses about 3,650 railroad ties, which means at least 912 trees are needed for one mile of track. Alternatively, IntregriCo converts 765,000 pounds of plastic into IntegriTies to create one mile of railroad track. IntegriCo claims that it has diverted 80 million pounds of landfill-bound plastics since 2009.

As many as four million wooden railroad ties, treated with creosote, will end up in landfills every year. This preservative extends the life of a wooden railroad tie but complicates the disposal process. Creosote includes cancerous carcinogens that are released into the air if burned, and the chemicals can also be absorbed into soil and water systems. No chemicals are needed to create or preserve IntegriTies, and these recycled plastic railroad ties have a calculated lifespan of 50 or more years—five times longer than wooden ties.

Founded in 2007, IntegriCo uses a patented manufacturing technology to manufacture products from 100% recycled plastics. According to the company, current IntegriCo clients include Union Pacific, the U.S. military, Rock Island Arsenal and Superior Energy Resources. It provides continuing international shipments to support the infrastructures of Germany and Russia.

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