The Association of Plastic Recyclers spotlighted five recycled-product innovations and one educational effort at the group’s first Plastic Recycling Showcase this week.
The event was part of the APR Technical Forum on Feb. 1, held in conjunction with Plastics Recycling 2016 in New Orleans.
“Creating new products is hard work, and achieving a first sale for a new product is even harder,” said John Standish, APR’s technical director. “The APR created the showcase for APR member companies who have recently commercialized a new product or technology that has a positive impact on plastics recycling, and where a tangible benefit or ‘first’ can be identified.”
Following are summaries of entries featured in the showcase, as well as one honorable mention:
Recycled HDPE reel
Vermont-headquartered Carris Reels created a recycled HDPE reel for spooled products. Earlier spools were made from wood or HIPS. The post-consumer and post-industrial recycled HDPE is a patented design that performs better than earlier spools.
For example, it can withstand a wider range of temperatures than HIPS (from 20 degrees below zero to 100 degrees Celsius for HDPE and zero degrees to 60 degrees for HIPS), according to a product summary. It’s also able to withstand twice the drop impact HIPS is.
“This illustrates how any industrial business can make an impact using recycled materials instead of virgin or other non-plastic materials,” Standish said.
New pressure-sensitive label
Coca-Cola partnered with Vienna-based Constantia to include a recycling-friendly pressure-sensitive label on all of the juices and juice drinks in Coca-Cola’s Simply Beverages line sold in the U.S.
The label, called the SpearRC, is an affordable pressure-sensitive label for PET packaging. It has all the benefits of standard pressure-sensitive labels but is also compatible with PET-recycling processes, according to a product summary. Specifically, the label’s adhesive stays on the label when it’s removed from the bottle, the ink doesn’t come off and the label floats in water. The previous PS labels were difficult to remove in the recycling stream.
The SpearRC was the first to be recognized by APR under its most recent guidance document for PET pressure-sensitive labels. It has been in development since 2005.
“This is really a big deal,” Standish said. “Pressure sensitive labels are about 5 to 8 percent of the PET bottle stream and a leading source of contamination in the recycling process. We want these better labels in wide use.”
Compatibilizing PE and PP
Dow Chemical Co. created a way to compatibilize PE and PP into a new polymer with properties on par with straight HDPE.
The Intune Olefin Block Copolymers (OBCs) create a polymer that’s compatible with both PE and PP. The development increases the value of mixed resins and opens the available supply of usable post-consumer material.
“One of the many practical and commercial uses of Intune OBCs today is enabling upgraded stiffness/toughness in durable articles made with blends of post-consumer recycled PE and PP,” the product summary states.
Standish noted that the first commercial use “helps set the stage for growth and wider acceptance in the industry, making recycled PP and PE blends more valuable.”
New PET on the block
Singapore-headquartered Indorama created and commercialized a resin that can create bottles currently made from PETG but is still compatible with the standard PET stream.
The company’s Polyclear EBM PET 5507 resin can be used to make clear, high-gloss containers with or without handles. It can be used for products as varied as liquor, household cleaners, automotive fluids and other chemicals.
“These resins are an industry first to be commercialized and provide brand companies and packaging suppliers an alternative to PETG for blow molding,” the product summary states.
It is a true semi-crystalline PET polymer that exhibits high melt strength and slow crystallization to allow for processing on extrusion blow molding equipment adapted to handle PET. Products made with the resin can carry the No. 1 resin code.
“The Indorama resin is APR Recognized and is now commercial,” Standish said. “This provides brand companies and container suppliers a sound alternative to PETG that is compatible with PET recycling.”
Advanced flake sorter
Tomra Sorting Solutions developed a flake sorter capable of carrying out color, polymer and metal detection and sortation at the same time.
In addition to those capabilities, the AUTOSORT FLAKE 2.0 uses ideal illumination for color and polymer sensors to maximize the sorter’s performance. The equipment incorporates Tomra’s FOURLINE Technology, high-speed, high-precision NIR sensors allowing resolution up to two millimeters, “minimizing the loss of valuable product yield and leading to higher product recovery,” according to the product description.
“This exceptionally effective system optimizes flake sorting applications – regardless of grain size,” the description states.
Standish said the AUTOSORT FLAKE “enhances the ability of flake sorters to identify and eliminate contamination” and he is “looking forward to seeing how quickly this equipment is adopted.”
PETStar Museum (Honorable Mention)
While not a product, the museum and auditorium at Mexico City-based reclaimer PETStar provides significant public education opportunities.
The facility, the first museum with LEED Platinum certification in Latin America, welcomed more than 12,000 visitors in 2015, and it expects 20,000 this year. It provides hands-on opportunities for children and others to learn about plastics recycling.
“The review committee was taken by the impact that this facility has and the commitment that PETStar has made to community education,” Standish said.
Photos: (From top to bottom) Bryan Connell of Carris Reels, Dan Muenzer of Constantia Flexibles, Michael White of Dow, Frank Embs of Indorama, Adam Lovewell of Van Dyk Recycling Solutions and Jaime Camara Creixell of PETStar speak at the first-ever Association of Plastic Recyclers Plastic Recycling Showcase. Lovewell spoke on behalf of a Tomra representative who wasn’t able to attend.