A Thai firm is behind the development of an innovative technology which helps recover pulp from laminated and other paper which was earlier considered nearly impossible to recycle.
Paijit Sangchai's firm, Flexoresearch, has developed a series of blended enzymes that can recover pulp or fiber from laminated paper such as cigarette packets, stickers or milk cartons that were previously hard or impossible to recycle.
First one enzyme attacks the water resistant chemical coating the surface, then others take over and tackle the paper and adhesive layers.
The resulting pulp can then be used to produce new paper products-thus saving trees - or turned into building materials that can be used as an alternative to asbestos, which is potentially hazardous to human health. In developing countries such as Thailand, laminated paper is usually thrown away, Paijit said.
"Most people burn it illegally and that causes toxic fumes which harm people's health," Discovery News quoted him as saying.
"For people in developing countries who suffer from the fumes and don't know why they are sick ... it can help improve their lives," he added.
The technique also produces clean plastic that can be recycled and used to produce new products.
Flexoresearch was recently named one of 31 "Technology Pioneers" by the World Economic Forum, which said its products were "poised to reduce the use of asbestos in the developing world, positively impacting people's health."
Time Magazine described Flexoresearch as one of "10 start-ups that will change your life".
"Every country uses laminated paper, in stickers and wrappers of food like McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken. That's all laminated and people throw it away," he said.
"I think this a global market."
"I make a profit from a problem. I convert waste into wealth," he said.