This project involved both basic and applied research for the development of agile and mobile manufacturing technologies that take advantage of recycled and reclaimed plastics at forward operating bases (FOB). This project offers a safe and environmentally responsible way to reduce disposal requirements and to turn specific thermoplastics waste-streams into value-added products for use by service members.

Technical Approach

Of the various plastics in the waste stream at FOB, Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, #1) and Polyethylene (PE, #2 and #4) constitute the most significant portion. Based on earlier research by the Principal Investigator for the U.S. Army, a complete, mobile, extrusion plant for waste PE had been designed. This research effort focused on reclaimed PET, (rPET) from beverage containers (such as water and beverage bottles) and involved waste stream characterization, source separation, sorting and cleaning technologies, development of rPET based material formulations, and processing technologies to convert rPET into high-valued, much-needed products at the Point of Need (PON) by service members.


The major deliverables from this project involved the following four complete designs for mobile and agile manufacturing plants that can be fabricated and built in the continental United States in 20-foot International Standard Organization containers, shipped to the required bases and operated on site by a service member or contractor.

  • A sorting and washing plant that can produce clean rPET flake at 300 pounds per hour.
  • A filament extrusion plant for high-valued Additive Manufacturing of much-needed components at PON with rPET flake.
  • A dimensional rPET based plastic lumber extrusion plant that can operate at 200 pounds per hour.
  • A manufacturing plant to convert mixed plastics waste into light construction blocks at 30 tons per month.


The clear benefits of this project involve not only significant improvements in the self-sustainability for the service member with a reduction in the logistics tail, but also the ability to manufacture value-added products on-demand, on-site at the FOB. Additionally, the results of this project will reduce the need for open burning which would benefit not only the environment, but the health of the personnel performing the burn as well.