Two years ago, socially conscious entrepreneurs Rob Ianelli and Ryan Schoenike founded their company, Norton Point, to manufacture sunglasses made from the huge amounts of plastic cleaned up from ocean coastlines.
Their goal was to be a part of the solution to one of the planet's greatest challenges: the 8 million tons of plastic entering Earth's oceans each year. Moreover, they wanted to reinvest their profits in research, education and development efforts that help reduce the impact of ocean plastic.
Now, engineers and polymer scientists with the University of Georgia's New Materials Institute are helping Norton Point, which is based in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, with testing of its "ocean plastics" products and finding new product applications.
New Materials Institute researchers will work with Norton Point to help make "green" products from re-purposed plastics obtained from locations around the globe.
"Norton Point wants to know how the recycled materials respond to different manufacturing processes like extrusion and injection molding, and how they compare with virgin petroleum-based high-density polyethylene in terms of qualities like impact-resistance, toughness and durability," said Jason Locklin, director of UGA's New Materials Institute and associate professor of chemistry and engineering at UGA.
The institute also is looking to help Norton Point identify new types of products that make the best use of the material properties of ocean plastics.