Myles Peterson has been looking for a way to turn waste plastics into something useful for several years now. The 18-year-old from Castlegar has decided a plastic plywood alternative is the way to go and he is putting his money where his mouth is.
Peterson has invested all of the savings he has earned from working three jobs during his teen years — Humble Bean, Waf-Pho, McDonald’s — into Terracore Plastic Co.
Peterson’s company has been years in the making and his dreams have morphed over the years from setting up a plastic processing facility in India to what it is today — a start-up company manufacturing a product Peterson developed himself.
Peterson has had entrepreneurial goals most of his life. At age 17, Myles pitched his idea of a plastics company in the Kootenay Junior Dragon’s Den competition and won second place.
“I have not always had the most money growing up, so going into entrepreneurship seemed natural for me,” said Peterson. “I am also really interested in science and technology, so I was very interested in building something.”
The idea of working with recycled plastics came after a trip to a friend’s wedding in India. There, Peterson noticed the piles of plastic waste and the pollution from burning plastics.
“The smell from the plastics was just awful,” said Peterson. “So I did some research into what that smog was doing to humans and I learned about the problems with micro-plastics.
“I knew something had to be done, so I decided to get into plastic recycling.”
Peterson has now left the town he had lived in all of his life to set the company up in Camrose, Alta., where the elements he needs to make his business a success are readily available to him.
Terracore’s product will be made in a variety of configurations. Terra-Panels are affordable, made of recycled material and water and UV resistant. They can be cut, screwed and nailed just like regular plywood.
The formula is something Peterson is keeping to himself, but it includes primarily plastics acquired from a Camrose recycling depot, a bit of wood chips and additives. Eventually he plans to apply for a patent.
The plastic is shredded, washed, separated by density and then dried. Once all of the ingredients are combined, it is melted and pressed in a 90-ton press.
“The plastic works as the adhesive,” explains Peterson. “That is why you can use it outdoors and it won’t swell, crack or freeze.”
He sees an endless list of possible uses for the product. But for now, Peterson is pretty excited about talks he is having with a company that is interested in the product for an industrial-type use.
“Hopefully these first contracts will allow me to grow and hopefully change the whole building industry.”
You can follow Peterson’s progress at terracoreplastics.com.