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Niche Market with Waste

26 March 2004

An innovative Queensland company is manufacturing building products out of polystyrene waste that previously was dumped in Brisbane landfill.

Such has been the success of Quik'n Tuff Pty Ltd's marketing efforts that its ""Conpolcrete"" wall panels are now being exported to New Zealand. The Conpolcrete panels are manufactured from recycled virgin waste polystyrene which is crushed and blended with concrete and alkaline-resistant fibreglass mesh.

The finished product is a relatively light-weight, insulated, fire-rated panel that is used for external walls in residential and commercial construction. Currently Quik'n Tuff sources the polystyrene from three or four local manufacturers.

""We're based at Acacia Ridge and most of the polystyrene manufacturers that make the refrigeration panels and cut polystyrene for architectural reasons are based in this area,"" said managing director Vincent Martin, a plasterer by trade. ""We're trying to negotiate a deal where we can get all the polystyrene waste from all the manufacturers in southeast Queensland.""

In the past, manufacturers often had to pay to have this waste carted away and much of it ended up in landfill. When Mr Martin came to Australia 19 years ago, he found the Australian building techniques less advanced than what he was used to in the UK and Europe. Six years ago, he started experimenting with different materials and eventually came up with Conpolcrete.

""We initially tried other materials but since polystyrene waste was a problem for the environment we saw that it was a good avenue to go down,"" he said. A manufacturing plant was built four years ago and the company, which employs 25 people, now produces 1000 to 1200 square metres of panelling a day.

Quik'n Tuff head of marketing and sales Michael Ross said Conpolcrete was being tested in the UK and US markets.

""There are at least half a dozen other regions under consideration,"" he said.





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