SPE Library

The SPE Library contains thousands of papers, presentations, journal briefs and recorded webinars from the best minds in the Plastics Industry. Spanning almost two decades, this collection of published research and development work in polymer science and plastics technology is a wealth of knowledge and information for anyone involved in plastics.

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Recycling
Various topics related to sustainability in plastics, including bio-related, environmental issues, green, recycling, renewal, re-use and sustainability.
Plastic Bag Recycling: The Obaggo Story
David New, April 2021
Dave New, founder of Obaggo Recycling, will tell the story of his journey to bring a novel plastic bag recycling solution to the mass market. He will discuss the genesis of the idea, the trials and tribulations of prototype development, and the epic search for project support and funding. A fundamentally entrepreneurial story, Dave will talk about the world of start-up accelerators, b-plan competitions, and how he navigated a vast landscape of stakeholders, cheerleaders, and naysayers.
Less is More: How to Maximize Energy Savings in Plastics Processing - Part 2 
Josh Bachman, March 2021
This is the second part of a two-part webinar. This webinar will address behavioral and organizational approaches to industrial energy management. Josh will explain how manufacturing companies can implement energy programs, both through proven best practices and through local and regional utility funding programs.
Less is More: How to Maximize Energy Savings in Plastics Processing - Part 1
Josh Bachman and Pamela Birkel, March 2021
Wasted energy is wasted profit. In these webinars, plastics engineers, plant managers, and financial managers will learn about the typical opportunities to save energy at plastics plants. In the first webinar, Josh Bachman and Pamela BIrkel will share energy savings opportunities that have been uncovered over the years. They will also share case studies of successful projects, many of which were funded by the local utility.
Taking out the Trash, Plastics Design for the End-of-Life
Eric Larson, December 2020
Nothing lasts forever. Great products might not last forever, but they usually last a long time. But no matter how great the product is, there will come a point in time where a thing no longer has any value. It then becomes waste. To be thrown in the trash. And then what? How do you design a product to account for its expected end of life? Or an unexpected end? How do you evaluate materials based on what happens at their end of life? What tools are there? How to use them? What’s next? For plastics, and for the industry.
Life Cycle Assessments: Why and How?
Chris Koffler, November 2020
The webinar will give a high-level overview of the basic process, concepts, and calculations involved in carrying out Life Cycle Assessments in accordance with the international standard ISO 14044. It will further showcase LCA studies performed for industry to demonstrate the business value that can be derived from such studies in product development and marketing. The target audience includes process engineers, product designers, product managers, sustainability professionals, and anyone interested in ways to quantify the environmental performance of goods and services.
This is Not the Wild West: Sustainability Definitions, Standards, and Regulations
Kelvin Okamoto, October 2020
With continued interest in and development of sustainable plastics, it is clear that not everyone is working with the same lexicon. Terms such as 'degradable', 'bio-degradable', 'recyclable', and 'compostable' are subject to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, or outright fraudulent claims. This webinar will address how ASTM standards are being used to create a common understanding based on science and testing. We will also address the commonalities and differences among standards, certifications, and regulations. This webinar is part of SPE's ongoing "Sustainability & Plastics" series.
Plastics & the Environment: Dispelling Popular Myths With Scientific Facts
Chris DeArmitt, July 2020

In order to make wise decisions, we must start with facts. Unfortunately, plastics have been sentenced in the court of public opinion without facts or evidence. The public have turned against plastics based on nothing more than unsubstantiated social media posts and sensationalist journalism.

As a career scientist, I decided it was time to go look for the facts. It took over a year to collect and read more than 400 peer-reviewed scientific publications. I discovered that virtually everything the public believe today is utterly untrue. This talk distills down the science around waste, litter, degradation, microplastics and more. You will be shocked to discover what the science tells us. Plus will be given free access to The Plastics Paradox book which explains how today’s policies are harming rather than helping the environment and what we should be doing instead.

Developed for a Fortune 500 company who offered over $10,000 dollars, SPE members can access it for free. The first couple of chapter is available to the public at: plasticsparadox.com.

iMFLUX's Novel Low, Constant Pressure Molding Technology Overcomes Traditional Barriers to Achieving A Truly Sustainable, Circular Operation - Sponsored by SPE Recycling Division
Gene Altonen, June 2020
One of the biggest challenges facing the plastics industry today, is the need for technology solutions that enable a Circular Economy. This is especially true for injection molded parts, where operational tradeoffs are often encountered when running many sustainable materials. iMFLUX, a wholly owned subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, offers a novel injection molding technology they refer to as the “Green Curve” which uses low, constant plastic pressure to fill an injection mold. Gene Altonen, iMFLUX’s CTO, will share how this new technology addresses the key challenges molders face to deliver truly sustainable, circular solutions for their customers. Examples will be provided illustrating how this new approach to molding offers the ability to efficiently run post-consumer recycle and composites, substantially reduce energy use, and enable more sustainable part designs and materials. iMFLUX is collaborating with machine makers, material suppliers, educators, mold designers, data platforms, and sustainability industry associations to enable molders to benefit from the unique advantages this new technology provides.”
Advanced Simulation Methods for Prediction of Multi-Layer Non-Matching Fiber-Mat Applications In Resin Transfer Molding Process
Fred Yang, May 2020
The objective of this study is to use a simulation tool of resin transfer molding (RTM) process to get a comprehensive understanding of the permeabiliy measuring process. In order to varify the simulation tool’s capibility to simulate oil flow in non-matching fabric we build the mesh model of the measuring instrument cavity with the non-matching meshes in this study. This varifaciton case focuses on two properties of the RTM process, the arriving time and local pressure increasing trend in filling process. By using the simulation tools, we can observe the resin flow within the mold. The comparison between simulation and experiment result shows the reliability of simulation result. We expect that this study will help to clarify relevant issues and then reduce the trial-and-error time and materials.
Bottle-to-Bottle Recyclability for Barrier Packaging Enabled by Surface Modified HDPE
Zhenshuo Liu, May 2020
Ellen McArthur Foundation’s bold vision for The New Plastics Economy is one where plastic goods can be recycled and reused in a closed loop, a “Circular Economy”. A key hurdle to enabling closed loop recycling is the deterioration of polymer properties due to raw material contamination in the recycle stream. Mixed polymer systems, i.e. co-extrusion/multilayer packaging, use barrier materials such as EVOH or Nylon, creating significant issues during recycling. In contrast, having monolayer packaging enables the highest recyclability. Fluorinated HDPE enables monolayer barrier packaging solutions. To further understand its impact on recyclability, Inhance Technologies investigated the inclusion of fluorinated HDPE in the regular HDPE stream. Fluorinated HDPE and regular HDPE were blended at different ratios, re-extruded and pelletized. Following pelletization, bottles were molded from the regrind blends and their properties were evaluated. At all blend ratios, thermal-mechanical properties, chemical fingerprint, and sortability match those of virgin HDPE. The results demonstrate that fluorinated HDPE can be recycled as regular HDPE within the existing recycling infrastructure.
Circular Economy - New Styrenic Polymer Processing Concepts
Cassie Bradley, May 2020
Circular economy is a term describing a sustainable way to interact with all major stakeholders of the economic sphere. One basic idea is to minimize waste creation and to use post consumer waste as raw material for new products. This concept stands in contrast to the “linear economy”, based on products that end in landfill. Circular economy will play a particularly important role for all materials and goods having a short and mid-term lifetime and will have an implication on how these products are designed and recycled. Plastics food packaging are examples for goods, providing safety, protection and extended shelf-life and hence allow us to lead our modern life style. They typically have a short-term lifetime and are disposed after use. Within the challenge of “Circular Economy” however, producers of packaging, as well as upstream raw material producers are requested to provide new concepts for re-use in a true circular way, hence re-cycling rather than down-cycling or waste dumping in landfills. Plastics producers, and especially producers of Styrene-based plastics are taking up the challenge and started to “connect the dots” between municipalities, new recycling technology providers, raw material producers and customers. By promoting “chemical recycling” they are pursuing new ways to create high quality, even food grade plastics based on post consumer waste as new raw material.
Demonstration of a Preliminary Simulation Framework for Foam Blow-Molding using Commercially Available Blow-Molding Software
Bhaskar Patham, May 2020
The use of foamed polymeric precursors for blow-molding and thermoforming applications is seeing increased use in the world of application development across a wide range of segments such as automotive, appliances, and packaging. Foam blow molding holds great potential for further enhancing lightweight solutions for complex hollow structures, while adding the potential of single-material solutions offering multi-functionality, e.g., thermo-acoustic isolation or damping. Unlike in the case of foam injection-molding, fundamental processing-structure-property interrelationships are not widely researched in the area of foam blow-molding. Modelling, simulations, and predictive engineering of foam blow molding processing are still in their infancy. Any simulation framework for this purpose needs to address the complex interplay between the matrix rheology, foam morphology and morphology evolution, and the resulting processability and thermo-rheological properties of the foamed product. Here, we report a preliminary simulation framework for foam blow molding, demonstrated in the context of foam extrusion blow molding. The framework addresses several important material and processing considerations. These include: (1) the initial foam morphology; (2) the nonlinear viscoelastic characteristics of the foamed melt; (3) the derivation of constitutive parameters for the foam – arriving at a homogenized representation of the foam rheological characteristics; (4) the implementation of blow-molding simulations using these parameters in a commercially available simulation software; and (5) finally correlating the local strains in the blow molded part to its morphology.
Mechanical Properties of Electrospun Fibers from Ozone-treated Lignin
Jiawei Chen, May 2020
Ligninis a viableprecursor alternative for electrospun carbon fiber. Purification of lignin typically involves chemicals. Ozone treatment is an environmentally-friendly approach to purify lignin. In this study, electrospinning of untreated and ozone-treated lignin was conducted with polyethylene oxide (PEO) as an aid-polymerto form submicron fibrous mats. Morphology and mechanical properties of the electrospun fibers were investigated. Electrospun ozone-treated lignin fibers showedspherical shapes attached to smooth fibers, characterized as beads-on-a-string (BOAS) morphology. It was found that longer duration of ozone treatment resulted in decreased average fiber diameter while increasing bead density, changing spindle-like beads into spherical beads. Ozone treatment did not have significant influence on the strain at failure of the electrospun lignin mats. Bead formation reduced the tensile strength and the elastic modulusof the electrospun fibers. Medium ozone consistency and short reaction duration were found to be the optimum conditions where highest tensile strength and elastic modulus were achieved.
Recycling PET into Plastic Lumber at Forward Operating Bases
Richard Heggs, May 2020
Recycling of plastic waste at Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) is becoming a topic of considerable interest to the Department of Defense. The ability to recycle plastic waste into plastic lumber that would be of use at the FOBs accomplishes two goals: (i) Reducing the environmental concerns caused by open pit burning of waste plastics (which is now prohibited at many sites) and, (ii) Providing the warfighter with useful materials for infrastructure improvements lessening the need for building supplies that in many cases must be delivered by convoy. This paper describes the investigation of using recycled PET (rPET) to make plastic lumber using flow intrusion molding and the resulting performance characteristics
Stabilization of Polymers for a More Circular Economy
Ian Query, May 2020
Polyethylene and polypropylene are two of the most easily recycled polymers. Recycling polyolefins can result in downcycling to simple functional polymers, true recycling for reuse in the intended application, or upcycling of the polymer into higher quality products. To take advantage of the available feedstock and improve its utilization, stabilizers are can be added to allow the polymer to retain its original physical properties. A variety of customer-based case studies on recycling and upcycling will be covered showing how additives allow for improvements in the recycle stream.
The Use of Novel Biomaterials For Affordable Packaging
Karnik Tarverdi, May 2020
The effects of the use of biomaterials for the development of novel packaging composites have been evaluated. An increase in the amount of treated fillers improved the dispersion of the particles and consequently led to an enhancement of the mechanical properties of the materials. The composites were melt-blended using co-rotating intermeshing twin screw extrusion technology and although there can be degradation of the organic additives during extrusion processing, it did not affect the dispersion of the novel biocomposites and the biofillers.A range of techniques used to characterise these materials will be discussed, including morphology, differential scanning calorimetry, (DSC), Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), including experimental techniques likemechanical property evaluations.
SPE Recycling Division 2020 1st Quarter Newsletter
SPE Recycling Division, February 2020
Read the 2020 1st Quarter newsletter for SPE Recycling Division.
Commercializing Recyclable Plastic Packaging – A Journey of Discovery
Lawrence Effler, February 2020
Major brands and retailers have made various pledges to have recyclable plastic packaging by various targets dates. However, most recyclable solutions are not drop in replacements for existing packaging. Also, it’s not enough for the package to be reprocessable to be commercially recyclable other elements must also be in place. So, what does it take to have a commercially recyclable package and how do we get there?
Produce Rescue Center: A Working Model for Plastics Circular Economy
Carmelo Declet-Perez, February 2020
In 2017, the Montgomery County Food Bank (MCFB) and Dow partnered to create the Produce Rescue Center. The MCFB supports 65+ partner agencies in Montgomery County, TX. The Produce Rescue Center seeks to increase the amount of fresh produce that reaches people in need serviced through the partner agencies. In this presentation we will highlight the impact and accomplishments from the Produce Rescue Center and the role plastic packaging plays in this success. We will also discuss next steps for the project to complete a circular economy model for plastics packaging.
Improving Physical Properties in Sustainable Thermoplastic Elastomers through Incorporation of a TRA
Megan Robertson, February 2020
Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are widely used in electronics, clothing, adhesives and automotive components due to their high processability and flexibility. ABA triblock copolymers, in which A represents glassy endblocks and B the rubbery midblock, are commercially available TPEs. The most commonly used triblock copolymer TPEs contain glassy polystyrene endblocks and rubbery polydiene midblocks. However, commercial TPEs are derived from petroleum. The manufacturing and disposal of petroleum-derived products have undesired environmental impacts, which promotes development of TPEs from sustainable sources. Vegetable oils and their fatty acid derivatives are attractive alternatives to petroleum due to their abundancy and low cost. Our group has previously reported replacing polydienes in commercial TPEs with sustainable polyacrylates derived from fatty acids. However, polymers with bulky constituents, such as the long alkyl side-chains of fatty acid-derived polymers, typically exhibit poor mechanical performance due to lack of entanglements in the rubbery matrix. To improve the mechanical properties, a transient network was incorporated into the fatty-acid derived midblock through hydrogen bonding. Specifically, triblock copolymers containing polystyrene endblocks and a midblock composed of a random copolymer of poly(lauryl acrylate) (derived from lauric acid) and acrylamide (which undergoes hydrogen bonding) were synthesized. Quantitative FTIR analysis confirmed the formation of a transient network. The polymers exhibits disordered spherical morphologies, desirable for application as TPEs. Rheological measurement revealed the order-disorder transition temperature reduced with increasing acrylamide content, beneficial for high temperature melting process. Importantly, triblock copolymers with hydrogen bonding in the matrix exhibited significantly higher modulus, strain at break, and tensile strength as compared to comparable polymers in the absence of hydrogen bonding.


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Brown, H. L. and Jones, D. H. 2016, May.
"Insert title of paper here in quotes,"
ANTEC 2016 - Indianapolis, Indiana, USA May 23-25, 2016. [On-line].
Society of Plastics Engineers
Available: www.4spe.org.

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