PT Blog


While polypropylene encompasses a widely diverse range of properties and uses, two themes characterize the new generation of higher-performing PP resins and compounds. One is competitive inroads against not only other commodity resins like PS and PET, but also more expensive engineering polymers like nylons and PC. The other is a significant push for sustainability—without compromised performance. Newer offerings embodying these trends include grades that extend lightweighting opportunities such as foamed PP, short- and long-glass reinforced compounds, carbon-fiber reinforced PP, and grades with recycle content or made with biobased feedstock.

Within the last couple of years, we have reported on PP suppliers and compounders that have acquired recycling companies, such as Borealis and Albis Plastics. We have also reported on strides made to produce PP from biobased propane. Borealis is now commercially producing PP based on renewable feedstock made with the proprietary Nexblt technology of  Findland’s Neste at two Belgian facilities. Last year, LyondellBasell was the first to successfully produce biobased PP and LDPE in parallel  using Nexbtl technology, and is now validating market demand for these products.

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Welcome to the Plastics Technology Compounding Supplement. You received this supplement together with your regular August issue because you indicated to us as part of your subscriber-qualification process that you or your company are involved in compounding, either via single- or twin-screw extrusion or some batch mixing process.

The intention of this supplement is to offer you guidance from some of the world’s foremost authorities on three areas of compounding that perhaps you should take a look at as you endeavor to grow your business. As the cover of this supplement indicates, we have combined these articles under the umbrella of “Value-Added Compounding.” We could have just as easily titled this article collection as “Higher-Margin Compounding.”

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With today’s increasing use of complex or novel material formulations and the steady tightening of efficiency goals, it becomes ever more challenging to achieve high-quality pellets. The trend is a major driver in our industry’s evolution from strand to underwater pelletizing (UWP). This transition, however, can be daunting. Initially, UWP equipment can be intimidating, and uninformed decisions can lead to costly quality issues and equipment damage. Preventing some of these troubles and dealing with those that do arise requires a combination of partnering with your UWP supplier and being aware of troubleshooting guidelines for common problems.

Relationships with your suppliers are always important, but in the case of UWPs, the relationship is critical. Compared with strand pelletizers, UWPs are more elaborate and more sophisticated. There is a steeper learning curve, and knowledge is key. The leading pelletizer suppliers have very different philosophies on how the technology should be made actionable on the shop floor. Therefore: Know your pelletizer supplier, and make sure the supplier knows you.

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This is the tenth and final in a series of blogs based on 2019-2020 research conducted by Mastio & Co., St. Joseph, Mo. on key markets for processors of polyethylene film. The first five offered Mastio’s analysis—based on interviews with processors conducted direct by the Missouri firm—with film processors representing the five largest PE film markets: stretch film, consumer/institutional product liners, T-shirt bags, institutional can liners and consumer trash bags.

The second batch of five focus on the five fastest-growing PE film markets. We’ve already hit on bubble-wrap market, converter film , deli bags and wrap and the envelope and magazine overwrap market. Here, we examine the PE market for candy.

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Genomatica Survey Shows Sustainability is Embraced by Americans Despite COVID-19

Four months into unprecedented health and economic disruption, new research shows sustainability has moved from a fringe preference into a core imperative across American life. San-Diego-based biotechnology company Genomatica recently shared the results of a survey that show that  sustainability is now a top-of-mind issue with an overwhelming majority (85%) of Americans reporting they’ve been thinking about sustainability the same amount or more during the COVID-19 pandemic. Included are those thinking about it more noticing less traffic (45%), cleaner air (42%) and more plastic waste (40%). They’re also demanding action: more than half (56%) of Americans want both the government and brands to prioritize sustainability even while facing other issues

Genomatica develops commercial biobased processes to make widely-used chemicals that enable better more sustainable products. Their aim has been to enable their partners and leading brands to offer better food packaging, auto parts, clothing, tires, carpets, cosmetic ingredients, cleaning products and more. For example, the company has commercialized processes for bio-BDO (1,4-butanediol)  for plastics. The company’s process, which converts sugars into BDO in a patented direct fermentation process, has been used by companies such as Lanxess to produce compounds based on biobased Pocan PBT.

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