OWNERS: David Phillips and 39 partners
LOCATION: 205 E. 18th St., Des Moines

The problem:
The problem is garbage. Specifically, the 2 million tons of plastic-coated paper products that are shipped to landfills every year. Some of that material bounces around global markets, looking for a place that will accept it. It might be rejected in South Korea, then shipped to China. Yet, all of those products are recyclable. The trick is finding a process that doesn’t cause as much harm as good.

The Innovation:
The ReWall Co. LLC co-founder David Phillips convinced Kruc Co. Ltd. of Slovakia to let him introduce its recycling process in the United States. Phillips doesn’t discuss the proprietary process in much detail, but it includes shredding, pressing and cutting a variety of plastic-coated cartons and other materials into 4-foot-by-12-foot sheets that can substitute for construction materials such as dry wall and plywood.

How they did it:
The process is unique in that components are not separated, with inks going to one place, plastic and paper to others. In addition, the process avoids the use of glues, water or chemicals. Phillips opened shop in 2011 and collects materials from a variety of sources, including Kinzler Construction Services in Ankeny and Metro Waste Authority.  Phillips, an attorney, learned about the process from an old school chum. “I loved it immediately because cartons were being landfilled and the whole business was based on upcycling this wasted resource into something high quality and useful using a clever and proven technology. It is socially, environmentally and fiscally efficient all at once,” he said. “What’s not to love?” ReWall Co. has 40 owners, including Phillips, and it is looking to expand.

The payoff:
The sheets are highly mold- and water-resistant, and, in some cases, they are structurally superior to conventional building materials. ReWall panels can help builders obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designations. In addition to exterior and interior sheeting, ReWall makes products that can be used as underlay for floors, ceiling panels and wall tiles. Hubbell Realty Co. used the panels for exterior sheeting at The Cottages at Johnston Common and used it in the Cabins for Campers build-out at Easter Seals Iowa’s Camp Sunnyside.