First Ocean-Cleaning System Set to Deploy in 2016

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 30. June 2015



For any of you that have attended conferences on plastics recycling over the last few years, I’m certain you have noticed the presentations on the issue of plastics in our oceans…oftentimes accompanied by some very sobering slide shows showing the debri and its devastation on wildlife.

Now, what is certainly the world’s first ocean cleaning-system, is fast approaching its deployment. Invented by Boyan Slat, the 20-year old founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, this system involves a static platform that passively corrals plastics as wind and ocean current push debris through 2000-meter booms.  

Says Slat, “Taking care of the world’s ocean garbage problem is one of the largest environmental challenges mankind faces today. Not only will this first cleanup array contribute to cleaner waters and coasts but it simultaneously is an essential step towards our goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This deployment will enable us to study the system’s efficiency and durability over time.”

Plans for the array’s deployment is currently for second quarter of 2016. The feasibility of deployment, off the coast of Tsushima, an island located in the waters between Japan and South Korea is currently being researched.

The system will span 2000 meters, which will make it the longest floating structure ever deployed in the ocean—beating the current record of 1000 meters held by the Tokyo Mega-Float airplane runway. It will be operational for at least two years, catching plastic pollution before it reaches the shores of the proposed Tsushima Island deployment location. Tsushima Island is evaluating whether the plastic can be used as an alternative energy source.

This initial deployment will represent an important milestone in The Ocean Cleanup’s mission to remove plastic pollution from the world’s oceans. Within five years, after a series of deployments of increasing scale, The Ocean Cleanup plans to deploy a 100km-long system to clean up about half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California.

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




Will BASF's Nylon 66 Force Majeure Impact the Domestic Market?

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 23. June 2015


Last week, BASF declared force majeure at its Seals Sands, UK facility on hexamethylenediamine (HMD), nylon salt, and nylon 66 polymers and compounds supplied here from Europe under the Ultramid A and Capron PA66 brands.


The company cited production problems at its 276-million lb/yr plant for its action, which went into effect June 17. It also noted that it was not in a position to predict how long the force majeure situation is likely to last, but that it would update its customers as soon as possible.


I checked in with Mark Kallman, v.p. of client services for engineering resins, PS, and PVC at Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), who is a key source for keeping us up to date on resin pricing trends based on major fundamentals such as the balance of supply and demand. Both at the end of first quarter and as we are closing in on the end of the second, Kallman has noted that domestic nylon 66 supply is relatively balanced and that demand has been good, and is already trending to be a bit above 2014.


But, he also clarified that when he describes the market as balanced, he includes the nylon 66 materials imported to the North American market by BASF. As such, Kallman ventures that if the plant’s restart is delayed more than a few weeks, the domestic market will be impacted by supply constraints.


As for pricing, nylon 66 prices dropped a few percent during first quarter, and have been primarily flat with a bit of a downslide in some cases through this quarter. An attempt by suppliers in mid-April to push through a 15ȼ/lb increase following a force majeure action by Invista, failed as it did not affect resin availability. Prior to last week’s BASF force majeure action, Kallman was projecting a largely flat trend in prices to continue into third quarter. This may now change depending on the duration of this latest industry production disruption, along with factors such as the trajectory of feedstock costs.


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


MHG Strives to Accelerate Biopolymer Formulation Capabilities

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 22. June 2015


Biopolymers are here to stay and advancing their use in diverse applications requires determination and partnerships in both the R&D and application development realms. Biopolymer producer MHG, Bainbridge, Ga., has taken such steps to accelerate its research and development capabilities by opening its own specialty labs and gaining access to equipment at the University of Georgia (UGA).


With this ‘academia partnership’ agreement now in place, MHG’s specialty labs at the university allow researchers to determine certain properties and characteristics of bioplastic formulations that have been created at the Bainbridge facility. In this way, MHG can determine the proper formulation for clients by making minor changes to optimize their biopolymer applications. The company is a specialist in the customization of biopolymer formulations that combine PHA, PLA and other biopolymers through a proprietary reactive extrusion process.


Access to UGA’s state-of-the-art equipment such as the 900 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer (NMRO otherwise unavailable, is allowing the company to create cutting-edge quality product more efficiently. The research findings at the specialty labs can easily and swiftly be replicated at MHG’s manufacturing headquarters.


Says Paul Pereira, CEO and executive chairman of MHG’s board of directors, “There are many great resources, such as the 90 MHz NMR, but the truly great opportunity comes from being able to harness the brainpower of young and energetic scientists, increasing our bench strength by multiples…..This provides us the unique opportunity to further advance our research and development of our bioplastics and into a realm otherwise not possible. We look forward to our future with UGA.”


MHG has been very active in academia; chief science officer Isao Noda, the “Father of Nodax PHA”, has had numerous speaking engagements on Nodax, as well as 2D spectroscopy. Most recently, in addition to UGA, he spoke at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology in Seoul, Korea. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware and a professor at the University of Paris. MHG also serves as an industrial advisor for the University of Minnesota, which is part of the Center for Sustainable Polymers.


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


Nova Installs Nine-Layer Blown Film Coextrusion Line to Enhance Customer Collaboration

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. June 2015


The cornerstone of what is said to be a broader set of purchases and upgrades at the Calgary R&D facility’s Center for Performance Applications of Nova Chemical Corp. is a new, state-of-the-art Brampton Engineering nine-layer blown film coextrusion line.


Aimed at enhancing customer collaboration and product and application development capabilities, the new semi-commercial scale line enables in-house production of complex multi-layer films to optimize coextruded film structures and determine which polyethylene and other materials perform best.


The line is capable of running several different complex film structures per day with precise layer distribution and converter-quality film rolls. Films produced on the line will support Nova’s expanded applications development work for the food packaging, heavy-duty sack and other flexible packaging markets.


Technical services manager Sarah Marshall says that Nova Chemicals is the first PE resin producer in North America to have a nine-layer line. “This investment provides a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with our customers and quickly generate new ideas and applications utilizing our resins to help them succeed. It helps deliver on our commitment to expand our innovation capabilities and provide greater value to our customers.”


Before this installation, Dow Chemical's seven-layer Alpine line in Freeport, Tex. was considered the most complex blown film installion at any PE supplier location.


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


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.




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