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6/18/2015 | 1 MINUTE READ

Compatibilizers Aim to Boost Plastics Recycling Profits

Originally titled 'SPI's Paper on Compatibilizers Aims to Boost Plastics Recycling Profitability'
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The new paper on compatibilizers from SPI's Recycling Committee is a tool for increasing profitability of plastics recycling.

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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.