The plastic sustainability circle
Plastic's durability that was once considered a boon is now viewed as a bane. When we hear the word plastics today, one of the lasting images in our minds is that of a plastic bag floating in the ocean. This is largely because of the unprecedented rise in single-use applications and a mindset as consumers to just use and throw.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of plastic?
It is extremely important that you do not lose sight of the value of plastic and the various industries that depend on this important material. Plastics have proven their worth in terms of mechanical properties, performance, versatility, cost, etc. For example, plastic is a key material choice in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. The risk to health, especially for medical professionals and front-line workers, would be higher without plastics for personal protective equipment, masks, gloves and other products.
However, the way plastics are currently produced, consumed and managed at the end of their lives is not completely sustainable. Talks about replacing plastics with other recyclable materials, such as paper, especially for different types of packaging have gathered pace due to the negative environmental impacts of linear plastics production, the high volume of single-use applications, and the mismanagement of waste over the years. Plastics circularity and waste valorization are the need of the hour and chemical recycling technologies can play a vital role in achieving the same.
It is clear that it is not possible to continue with the usual business and all participants in the value chain of plastics must adopt circular principles. One part of the decision to achieve sustainability is the recycling of plastics, but unfortunately the current levels of recycling are far from ideal. The European Commission reiterates the need for higher levels of recycling in its newly adopted "Circular Economy Action Plan" as part of the European Green Treaty, and Member States must meet the following objectives:
- 55% recycling of plastic packaging waste by 2030
- reduce consumption to 40 bags per person by 2026
- improving the design, repair capabilities, recyclability and durability of products to be placed on the market
- monitoring and reduction of marine litter
In harmony with the circular strategy, more and more raw material producers are focusing on:
- the use of sustainable raw materials
- reuse and recycling
- prolong the useful life of their products
To further support the circularity of plastics and increase recycling, our Versailles partners launched Project Hoop® in February 2020. The project focuses on developing a new technology for chemical recycling of plastic waste, and together with Servizi di Ricerche e Sviluppo (S.R.S.), Annie's chemical company has developed a cost-effective process for valorizing mixed plastic waste that cannot be mechanically recycled.
What does "chemical recycling of plastics" mean and are there other good practices for overcoming the problem of plastic waste?
Chemical recycling is a common term for several advanced technologies and can turn plastic waste into raw materials that are re-entering the new polymer production chain. Additionally to these types of products, we can offer new product groups of masterbatches to support the recycling and separation of black plastic packaging, a line of additives supporting the processing and improvement of the product characteristics of 100% recycled materials and polymers, in the production of which sustainable sources are used. Bellow you will find our portfolio of products with which we believe that we can improve the sustainable circle of plastics:
- "Circular attributed", in the production of which "recycled oil" is used - pyrolysis oil obtained from the process of chemical recycling of mixed plastic waste
- "Bio attributed" and "bio circular attributed" produced from bio-naphtha
- Revive® series - polymer compounds containing up to 100% recycled plastic
- Matte for PE
- Odor scavengers
- Flow enchancer masterbatches
- Highly concentrated masterbatches
- Fragnance / Aromatic masterbatches
- UN Carrier for Biodegradable Plastic Products - universal carrier MB, that is suitable for coloring different biodegradable polymers. Enabling easy incorporation of color masterbatch at low temperatures, and color customization, this is a cost-effective carrier system that delivers very homogeneous coloring.
- Clarifying agent for PP
- Non-Halogen Flame Retardant Additives
- Near Infra-Red (NIR) & Metal Detection masterbatches - NIR additives and masterbatches allowing detection and separation of black plastic packaging for recycling
Circular attributed, bio attributed and bio circular attributed products include polymers such as polyethylene, styrene products and elastomers, which do not differ in chemical composition and physico-mechanical properties from those produced from fossil fuels and guarantee identical characteristics, quality and properties.