The material selection platform
Plastics & Elastomers
The material selection platform
Plastics & Elastomers

Innovating Plastics Recycling Via Upcycling Recyclate!

Donald Rosato – Oct 6, 2020

TAGS:  Green and Bioplastics    

The modern plastics industry is a great hallmark of global progress. However, there is basically an ongoing dysfunction in plastics recycling.

In the United States most plastics end up in landfills or incinerators, whereas 60% of all paper, 30% of metals, and 20% of glass are recycled yearly. Yet cradle to grave plastics, particularly in packaging applications are very conservatively 4-6 times more energy efficient for an equivalent package size.

The argument is and always will be compelling that plastics are a resource too valuable to waste. So, how about a circular economy for plastics, calling all global polymer scientists and engineers!

The Circular Economy
The Circular Economy
Source: University of Cambridge, Judge Business School

Let’s gather some facts to learn how to rebuild circular economy in other ways along with a disposable packaging example.

Going Beyond Mechanical Recycling

It is estimated that the amount of organic waste (including plastics at 54%) sent to landfill in the U.S. was the equivalent of India's crude oil production. Recycling opportunities are there because of inefficiencies in the current system, with up to 40% of thermoplastics currently used in single-use plastics and packaging.

U.S. Plastics Recycling Insight
U.S. Plastics Recycling Insight
Source: Accenture

With the limitations in mechanical recycling, the market is looking at how to build circularity in other ways, with chemical recycling providing distinct possibilities for producers.

Global Additive Suppliers: A Step Ahead

The plastics industry has long been reprocessing much of its process scrap and a good business has developed in post-industrial recyclate, but the growing mandate to recycle more means taking on post-consumer recyclate (PCR). That presents a number of challenges namely:

  • PCR is a high variability feedstream that is typically comprised of a mix of resin types and colors with varying rheological characteristics.
  • In addition, the levels of additives remaining in the polymer are unknown and that must be given serious consideration.
  • Then there are bad odors and organic contaminants of all sorts to confront. This is a real challenge.

Luckily, global additive suppliers are ahead of the trend here, specializing their product lines by specific resin performance profiles and key end-use application property requirements. Their goal is to go beyond generalized recycle additive add-on, narrow solutions, and move into upcycling additive systems that solve all the interconnected PCR processing, performance, and odor issues to achieve near virgin-like plastic compounds.

Ampacet’s BlueEdge and Green Edge Additives

Blue Edge 78 by AMPACETAmpacet has developed a Blue Edge 78 masterbatch to increase bottle brightness (used in right blue bottle) and for color correction (of left brown recycle content bottle) when using post-consumer recycled PolyEthylene Terephthalate (PET). Blue Edge 78 has been introduced in a new minipellet masterbatch form for:

  • Enhanced dispersion and processability
  • Lower let-down rates, and
  • Reduced energy consumption

It is targeting Blue Edge 78 where it is “ideal” for use in PET water bottles, but can also be used in personal care bottles. It is available in a number of shades, such as green, amber, and fuchsia.

Ampacet has also developed BlueEdge and Green Edge additives that counteract the yellowing and discoloration that can occur when processing Post Consumer Recyclate (PCR) with High Density PolyEthylene (HDPE), PolyPropylene (PP), and PolyCarbonate (PC), in addition to PET.

Managing Waste with Circular Economy

Finally, all’s well that ends well! A circular economy means re-using, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products and regarding waste as something that can be turned into a resource. It maximizes the value of resources to benefit both the economy and the environment. This contrasts with a linear “take-make-consume-dispose” model which assumes that resources are abundant, available and cheap to dispose.

Waste Management Hierarchy
Waste Management Hierarchy
Source: Plastics Institute of America

Plastic Recycling Innovation: 2020 Materials, Technologies, Applications UpdateGo Beyond Traditional Mechanical Recycling & Combine Different Recycling Techniques That Matches Your Requirements?

Establish a successful plastics recycling system by clearly understanding the recovery & reuse model and gaining in-depth knowledge about advanced technologies (depolymerization, pyrolysis, mechanical and solvent-based recycling), materials & applications.

Be the first to comment on "Innovating Plastics Recycling Via Upcycling Recyclate!"

Leave a comment

Your email address and name will not be published submitting a comment or rating implies your acceptance to SpecialChem Terms & Conditions
Channel Alerts

Receive weekly digests on hot topics

Back to Top