Rochester: Envirolastech

Envirolastech may have had a breakthrough in renewable structural technology, but the innovations don't stop there

By Dan Emerson

Editor's note: This article is part of the Local Focus: Rochester feature that appeared in the May 2013 issue

Startup Envirolastech has made news by using recycled materials to develop the first plastic lumber product capable of replacing traditional, structural wood lumber. Envirolastech's technology, verified by the American Society for Testing and Materials, enabled the firm to win the Clean Tech Renewable Energy Division competition in the 2012 Minnesota Cup, an entrepreneurial competition focusing on new, innovative businesses. The company now produces about 30 different products using its proprietary composites made from recycled plastic and incinerator ash.

Envirolastech founder Paul Schmitt has even bigger plans. He's submitted a proposal to city and county officials to build a sorting and production facility next to Rochester's waste-to-energy incinerator. The plant would produce electricity and steam and use recycled plastics and incinerator ash to produce marketable building materials, such as siding. Schmitt envisions a "closed-loop recycling system" that could make Rochester the nation's first zero-waste city.