Eric LeBel, President, and William Cliche, Operations Coordinator

What if your meat tray could be turned into a structural panel?

Éric LeBel, President of DécoupeXpert, a company specialized in cutting all kinds of materials, has been interested in non-recycled plastic for over two years. Following discussions with customers, he was looking for an alternative to wood, something that would be more stable when exposed to humidity.

After extensive research, he shifted his focus to polystyrene, a material abundant in Quebec’s garbage bins but lacking widespread recycling options. DécoupeXpert challenged itself to work with recycled polystyrene to discover its properties and the possibility of creating structural panels with it.   

R&D Phase 1: Plastic Reuse

DécoupeXpert approached the CAE to see how it could help with this innovative project, which would save a lot of polystyrene from going to landfills. A non-repayable contribution from the Programme Virage Vert was granted to the École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS) to carry out a feasibility study, including various chemical and mechanical analyses.

With this help, the study demonstrated that polystyrene waste can be used to create panels with chemical and mechanical properties that could eventually replace wood panels. What’s more, these panels would in turn be recyclable. In other words, this choice enables us to immobilize plastic materials that otherwise have no use.

The Virage Vert thus sparked a feasibility study aimed at creating innovative materials for various markets including construction, transportation, and furniture, to name a few.

“The CAE’s help allowed us to make giant strides in terms of TRL.* Our prototypes are already at levels 4-5. They were there for us throughout the study, and still are today. The staff were easy to work with and very efficient. We’re very grateful, their help is worth its weight in gold,” said Mr. LeBel. 

R&D Phase 2 in the Works

This second phase will involve real-life testing of the prototypes to reach level 7 on the federal government’s TRL scale, i.e., the pre-marketing level. The idea is to discover methods that use local recycled materials that compare and surpass the attributes of wood. This would also reduce the carbon footprint compared to wood panels.

DécoupeXpert is keen to develop a completely new business model that could be replicated elsewhere, because plastic waste is everywhere.

The CAE put Mr. LeBel in touch with Connexion Laurentides, an organization aiding companies with innovative concepts, which subsequently linked him with PRIMA Québec and the NRC to advance the project.

DécoupeXpert has a promising future ahead, and CAE wishes them every success.


Visit the DécoupeXpert website.


Various types of polystyrene pellets, either pure or mixed with other recycled plastics, are being tested to assess characteristics such as hardness, flexibility, etc., of these compositions.
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