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SPI's Paper on Compatibilizers Aims to Boost Plastics Recycling Profitability

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 18. June 2015

The newly released paper, “Compatibilizers: Creating New Opportunity for Mixed Plastics”, from SPI’s Recycling Committee aims to increase awareness among plastics recyclers who can explore the potential to create value out of mixed streams that are not currently being recycled. The paper essentially provides the entire recycling value stream with a primer on compatibilizers—additives that are designed to make disparate traditionally incompatible varieties of post-consumer recycled plastic materials compatible.

 

SPI’s Recycling Committee’s report determined that widespread use and understanding of compatibilizers could present recyclers with the opportunity to convert multi-layer flexible packaging and highly-mixed streams, such as the yield loss from increasingly contaminated bales—bales comprised of several different types of plastics rather than one variety—into valuable recycled resin.

 

The report’s recent findings show that HDPE recyclers are currently experiencing a 20% yield loss, while their PET recycling counterparts are experiencing upwards of a 40% yield loss. According to the report, this rate of material loss can quickly change the economics of an operation from black to red. In contrast, putting that yield loss to use as another valuable feed stream can dramatically change the economics of an operation, as well as further divert valuable plastics from the landfill; compatibilizers are one means by which this can be accomplished.

 

“Compatibilizers, long used by the prime industry, offer the potential to create new mechanical recycling solutions for post-industrial and post-consumer scrap plastics. This project demonstrates the innovation that can happen in recycling when you engage all segments of the supply chain. This is a real world solution being offered, one which is currently being used today by a number of our members to recover mixed resin streams that would otherwise be landfilled,” said SPI president and CEO Bill Carteaux.

 

The new report offers a list of available products and explains the way different compatibilizers function, including bipolar copolymer compatibilizers, malleated copolymer compatibilizers, and in-situ macromolecule catalysts and the challenges their use pose with inconsistent mixed-plastics streams. A full copy of the paper is on SPI’s website.

 

 

 

Quanex Expands With Acquisition of U.K.'s' HL Plastics

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 16. June 2015

 

The PVC construction business has been improving both here and across the pond, as is indicative by this newly announced acquisition. Houston-based Quanex Building Products, a leading manufacturer of cutting edge energy-efficient window and door systems and components has just acquired HL Plastics, the U.K.’s fastest-growing PVC profile extruder.

 

HL is best known for its Liniar brand of lead-free PVC profile extrusions for windows, doors and conservatories. Its Liniar bi-folding door was reportedly the first bespoke PVC door of its type, and continued development has shown that it can provide the strength, security and stability of an aluminum bi-fold with the thermal benefits of a cost-effective PVC door. The company has recently invested in an in-house robot to test its products.

 

A Quanex spokesman told me the HL acquisition expands the company global presence at a beneficial and opportune time in the U.K. housing market. It also leverages Quanex’s existing expertise in the U.K. market obtained thought its 2011 acquisition of Edgetech, a technological leader of insulating glass spacer systems for the window and door industry. Add this spokesman, “From a customer perspective, the acquisition adds HL’s highly-skilled vinyl extrusion expertise to our Mikron business in the U.S.”

Quanex’s Mikron products, based on its MikronBlend PVC compound, have been field-proven to stand the test of time, surpassing strict industry standards for colorfastness and UV degradation.

 

One of the other Quanex technologies that characterizes the company’s innovations is its patent-pending AirCell process that is used in its EnergyCore brand window systems. AirCell reportedly drastically improves thermal performance over hollow and manually foam-filled PVC. Using an exclusive, tri-extruded manufacturing process, AirCell technology is said to ensure fully insulated, corner-welded windows that provide superior thermal performance. The company says, windows made with this technology are proven to block thermal conductivity six times better than fiberglass, four times better than rigid PVC, and three times better than wood for energy efficiency that is up to 15% better than hollow PVC.

 

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.

 

PE Film Market Analysis: Consumer Can Liners

By: James Callari 15. June 2015

 

The consumer trash bag market can be divided into the categories of national brand, private label, and generic market segments. All three types of bags can be purchased by consumers in a variety of places including grocery stores, mass merchandise stores, and discount stores. National brand and private label bags are usually sold at a higher price than generic bags. Typically, there is very little, if any, advertising to promote the generic bags, further helping to lower the costs to consumers.

 

In 2014, approximately 1.023 billion lb of PE resin were consumed in the production of consumer trash bags. By 2017, consumption of PE resin for the consumer trash bag market is expected to reach about 1.040 billion lb, with an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 0.5%,.

 

These are among the conclusions of the most recent study of the PE Film market conducted by Mastio & Co., St. Joseph, Mo.

 

Many processors are producing consumer trash bags in designer colors, Mastio reports. Consumers can find trash bags in a variety of colors, ranging from soft pastels to something more bold and bright. Current trends are the determining factor in the availability of specialty hues. Also available are scented and odor blocking consumer trash bags. Vanilla, cinnamon and spring flowers are just a few of the scents that customers will encounter when shopping for kitchen or bathroom trash bags. Combining colors and scents has transformed consumer trash bags from just a common necessity to a decorative commodity.

 

According to Mastio, in 2014 the four largest consumer can liner processors wereClorox Co. (Glad) Manufacturing Co.; The Rank Group/Reynolds Consumer Products, Inc. Group (dba Presto Products Co. Div.); Poly-America, L.P. and Apollo Management, L.P. (Berry Plastics. Combined, Mastio says these companies consumed approximately about 67% of PE resin used in this market.

 

MATERIAL TRENDS

The resin most commonly utilized for consumer trash bags in 2014 was LLDPE, says Mastio. LLDPE resin provides added strength, puncture, and tear resistance over LDPE resin, which makes the bags less apt to puncture. Blending or coextrusion of LLDPE resins with LDPE materials allows processors to downgauge the film while maintaining or increasing the overall strength of the consumer trash bags.

 

The metallocene single-site catalyst based LLDPE (mLLDPE) resin is used to improve the strength and puncture resistance of consumer trash bags. When used in blends or in coextrusion with conventionally produced PE resins, mLLDPE resin greatly enhances the physical properties of the films in lower gauges. Other reported LLDPE resins utilized in this market include LLDPE-hexene, LLDPE-octene, LLDPE-butene, and recycled post-consumer LLDPE (PCR-LLDPE).

LDPE resins were the second most commonly consumed material in this market during 2014. LDPE resin, when utilized in blends or in coextrusion with LLDPE resin, adds to the overall appeal of the finished bags. LDPE resins have the greatest clarity of all grades of PE resin and give the film a higher surface gloss. Bag clarity can be important for custom tinted, semi-transparent bags used in recycling programs. Additionally, both LDPE-homopolymer and LDPE-ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer (LDPE-EVA copolymer) grades, when used alone or in blends, have increased processing ease and improved seal characteristics. Other reported LDPE resins utilized in this market included LDPEethylene- methyl acrylate copolymer (LDPE-EMA copolymer) and LDPE-ethylene acrylic acid copolymer (LDPE-EAA copolymer).

 

High molecular weight-HDPE (HMW-HDPE) and medium molecular weight-HDPE (MMW-HDPE) resins were also utilized in 2014 yielding added strength to consumer trash bags. Consumer trash bags constructed with HDPE resin are three times stronger and more durable than LLDPE or LDPE trash bags of the same thickness. HDPE resin is more puncture-resistant and/or less apt to zipper if punctured vs. bags constructed with LDPE resin. Consumer trash bags constructed with HDPE have less surface gloss, are stiffer, and have less stretch than either LLDPE or LDPE bags. Additionally, HDPE resin requires specialized film extrusion equipment and is more difficult to process.

 

TECHNOLOGY TRENDS

 

In 2014, 100% of consumer can liners were produced by blown film extrusion Monolayer film construction was most prevalent accounting for about 95% of resin consumption for this market.

 

MY TWO CENTS

 

As with institutional can liners, the fact that this market is still so heavily dominated by single-layer structures is surprising, suggesting that products are being produced on older equipment. The challenge for consumer can liner makers is to produce more structures containing recycled materials. Some are having issues with getting their hands on material. Others, such as Aluf Plastics, have been using reclaimed material for years. As consumers and retail establishments place demands on manufacturers of all types to use reclaimed material, you’ll see more processors including post-consumer scrap in their products in the years ahead, either as a blend with prime resin in a single-layer structure, or as a core layer as more multi-layer capacity comes on stream.

SPI: Time To Refocus Plastics Recycling Efforts

By: Heather Caliendo 15. June 2015

Only about 9% of plastic waste was recycled from the municipal solid waste stream in 2012, according to the latest figures available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is a rate that has remained relatively unchanged for 10 years. 

 

Robert Render, commercial manager with Ravago Recycling, told Plastics Technology there are now more complex applications, such as the use of multiple materials together for one product, which can make it difficult to recycle.

 

“Still, the industry has a good track record of finding the use for the material once it’s been identified and collected,” he said.

 

The potential to use recycled plastics in manufacturing is vast. After all, the U.S. plastics industry produces nearly $400 billion in products. Using recycled plastics presents a big opportunity across the supply chain, which is one reason why the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), Washington, D.C., created the Re|focus Recycling Summit & Expo (April 25-27, 2016; Rosen Shingle Creek conference center and hotel in Orlando).

 

In collaboration with its Recycling Committee, SPI has designed the event to assist brand owners and processors on their environmental goals.

 

The summit launches with an evening reception on Monday, April 25, events on the next two days will include sessions within seven concurrent tracks. Conference track topics will include cutting edge recycling technologies, product engineering and design, supply chain management and manufacturing with recycled content, regulatory and compliance issues, industry-specific topics on recycling to recovery and use of recycled content, sustainability challenges and solutions and global manufacturing trends in recycled content. There will also be two plenary sessions with keynote addresses. An off-site plant tour is also in development.

 

“This is an industry-driven event,” said Kim Holmes, SPI senior director of recycling and diversions. “This is an opportunity of how we can take the plastics recycling discussion to the industry on a much larger scale. We really want to accelerate the adoption of the use of recycled content as well as other environmental goals for the industry.”

 

The programming team is seeking speakers who will participate in panel discussions and engage both other speakers and attendees through an active Q&A. Presentations should focus on practical implementation and application of leading best practices in the specific subject areas outlined. Those interested in submitting a speaker proposal can contact Ashley Patton at apatton@plasticsindustry.org.

 

The expo floor is designed to be a solutions-based space featuring material suppliers, equipment suppliers, and recycling and sustainability service providers. Re|focus has received early exhibit commitments from several companies including ADG Solutions and Davis-Standard, Bunting Magnetics, Fukutomi Green Products, Kice Industries, Plastics Technologies Inc., Phoenix Technologies, Rapid Granulator, Ravago, United Recycling and WEIMA America.

Nylon, PBT Play Key Role in New Energy-Conserving Tankless Water Heaters

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 14. June 2015

The next-generation Supercharger tankless water heater units from Houston-based Seisco International utilize DuPont’s engineering thermoplastics in several key components and have been designed to help homeowners meet the newly updated National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) requirements.

 

Seisco’s president David Seitz says the new standards could drive up the cost and size of tank-type water heaters because efficiency technology will have to be added to the tanks that are 55-gal or larger. “A Seisco Supercharger coupled with a 40-gallon tank matches the performance of a 60 to 80 gallon tank with significantly lower energy use because you heat less water all day. Thousands of gallons of water are wasted each year waiting for hot water to travel through cold pipes. Heating at the use point can significantly reduce water waste and save energy.”

 

The Supercharger unit is small enough (15” x 7” x 6”) to be placed near the use point. It features an internal heating chamber, which is injection molded of DuPont’s Zytel nylon for high-heat resistance, thermal stability and compliance with NSF and UL requirements. DuPont’s Crastin PBT delivers impact resistance and compliance with UL flammability requirements in a one-piece protective exterior housing.

 

A microprocessor control manages on/off when flow starts/stops. The water heater’s patented mixing chamber provides a small amount of heated water and the patented “Power-Sharing” technology helps ensure elements heat evenly. These innovations are said to protect against scalding, scaling and sediment build-up. The single-chamber Seisco models can be used as a back-up for both new and existing hot-water storage tanks in single-family homes. Multifamily water heaters allow building owners eliminate storage tanks in each unit. 

 

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.


 




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