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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Sustainability
Various topics related to sustainability in plastics, including bio-related, environmental issues, green, recycling, renewal, re-use and sustainability.
Aerogel from Food Waste
Zhang Xiwen, August 2019
What is Aerogel? Lightest but strong solid material with extreme low densities of 3 to 40 mg/cm3. Highly porous materials (> 99% of air) with large surface area. Objectives of the using coffee for aerogel: Repurpose food wastes into something useful while keeping environmental impacts to a minimum; Design a FULLY BIODEGRADABLE aerogel for various applications; Sustainable processing development for designed coffee aerogels; Functionalize the aerogels towards certain applications.
An Extreme World Needs Extreme Materials
Wenda Chen, August 2019
6 research platforms dedecated to sustainable development: New energies; Biosourced materials; Water treatment; Home efficiency and insulation; Lightweight materials; Consumer electronics.
Circular Meterials for Single-Use Flexible Packaging
Yap Chin Chong | Leong Yew Wei, August 2019
Chemical solutions for a circular economy: Mechanical recycling (Re-use: PET/PP/PE); Plastic waste to fuel (Conversion: PP/PE); Plastic waste to fine chemical (PS); Dynamic reversible crosslinker; Self-immolative, polymers; Fully recycle monomer-polymer-monomer; Bioplastics
Understanding Failure Rate in Plastic Components
Jeff Jansen, September 2019
When a plastic part fails, a tough question is often asked, “Why are a limited number of parts failing?”. This is particularly true with seemingly random failures at significant, but low, failure rates. Two aspects are generally linked to such low failure rates, multiple factor concurrency and the statistical nature of plastic failures. Failure often only takes place when two or more factors take effect concurrently. Absent one of these factors, failure will not occur. Plastic resins and the associated forming processes produce parts with a statistical distribution of performance properties, such as strength and ductility. Likewise, environmental conditions, including stress and temperature, to which the resin is exposed through its life cycle is also a statistical distribution. Failure occurs when a portion of the distribution of stress on the parts exceeds a portion of the distribution of strength of the parts. This webinar will illustrate how the combination of multiple factor concurrency and the inherent statistical nature of plastic materials can result in seemingly random failures.
Sustainability within PVC Stabilization – A Systematic Approach
T. Seibel | S. Cockett | A. Eichholzer | S. MacDonald, October 2019
What is sustainability? the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level; avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance; Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. It has three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social. These three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet and profits.
The Use of Recycled and Waste Materials in Selected Automotive Applications
K. Tarverdi | P. Allan | P. Marsh | J. Silver, December 2019
This report is an account of a project that went under name ‘Light AND Sound’ or the acronym ‘LANDS’. The objective was to investigate the potential use of recycled and waste materials in automotive components. Five components were selected for the investigation. All of them had the potential to be manufactured from waste and recycled materials. The trial materials which included recycled polypropylene and a particulate industrial solid waste stream, were processed into prototype components that were evaluated and compared with the respective production counterparts. Finally a life cycle assessment was carried out for each prototype component that was also compared with the current part. The overall results indicated a clear potential for the use of the project materials in their respective application.
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.
The Role of Mechanical Recycling in the Circular Economy for Polyolefins (Paper)
John Dorgan, February 2020
The global production and use of plastics (especially polyolefins) continues to grow and is expected to double to nearly 800 million metric tons per year by 2040. The use of plastics has resulted in convenience and reduced overall energy consumption, though we are also beginning to recognize challenges due to the mismanagement of plastic waste. Public concern over issues such as ocean plastics, along with the emergence of the concept of the circular economy, has resulted in commitments by some consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to use recyclable packaging and to use more recycled plastic in their packaging. Mechanical recycling is an established approach that provides an opportunity to better manage waste plastics by creating value from otherwise worthless waste. The increasing demand for recycled content should increase the recycled plastic price further, resulting in an increase in the global plastics recycling rate from the current level of approximately 12%. We will provide an overview of mechanical recycling technologies while also highlighting some of the technical limitations that prevent immediate widespread incorporation of recycled polyolefins into new packaging and other high value products. We will also discuss potential approaches to overcoming these technical challenges and the role of the REMADE Institute in these developments. In addition, we will discuss how mechanical recycling will be a critical first step in many of the chemical recycling approaches that are beginning to emerge.
The Role of Mechanical Recycling in the Circular Economy for Polyolefins (Presentation)
John Dorgan, February 2020
The global production and use of plastics (especially polyolefins) continues to grow and is expected to double to nearly 800 million metric tons per year by 2040. The use of plastics has resulted in convenience and reduced overall energy consumption, though we are also beginning to recognize challenges due to the mismanagement of plastic waste. Public concern over issues such as ocean plastics, along with the emergence of the concept of the circular economy, has resulted in commitments by some consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to use recyclable packaging and to use more recycled plastic in their packaging. Mechanical recycling is an established approach that provides an opportunity to better manage waste plastics by creating value from otherwise worthless waste. The increasing demand for recycled content should increase the recycled plastic price further, resulting in an increase in the global plastics recycling rate from the current level of approximately 12%. We will provide an overview of mechanical recycling technologies while also highlighting some of the technical limitations that prevent immediate widespread incorporation of recycled polyolefins into new packaging and other high value products. We will also discuss potential approaches to overcoming these technical challenges and the role of the REMADE Institute in these developments. In addition, we will discuss how mechanical recycling will be a critical first step in many of the chemical recycling approaches that are beginning to emerge.
Biomass-based Renewable Polymers – A Pathway to a Sustainable Future
Joshua Yuan, February 2020
Major environmental challenges associated with petrochemical plastics need to be addressed via a) reduction of environmental contamination through enhanced recyclability at the end of service life and b) the supply of low cost renewable feedstock for plastics production. In particular, there is a large need for innovative plastics that are readily recyclable to lower environmental hazards and the renewable feedstocks for these plastics must be made widely and cheaply available. We have developed two aspects of advances to enable widespread production of such innovative plastics. On one front, we will develop various pretreatment, fractionation and metabolic engineering technologies to enable the efficient conversion of lignocellulosic biomass or lignin waste to PHA for bioplastics. On the other front, we have tailored lignin chemistry and designed lignin-based composite material both with enhanced performance and with controlled degradability at the end of service time. These innovative technologies produce desirable lignin-based plastics in the context of biorefinery design, in a manner that adds value for a lignocellulosic biorefinery. The overall impact could significantly enhance environmental sustainability by replacing the non-degradable plastics and enabling lignocellulosic bioproduction.
Overview of the Current Plastic Recycling Landscape
Manuel Prieto, February 2020
Trends in plastic waste management, recycling and reuse are evolving rapidly – the demand for single use plastics continues to grow and more complex plastic applications are further challenging existing infrastructure. Finding a solution requires action across all steps of the value chain (from product design to consumer education to collection to separation to recycled polymer reuse), as well as across stakeholders (from chemical companies to converters to brand owners to recycling companies to governments to investors and public figures). Chemical recycling, conversion, and decomposition technologies offer further flexibility to recover and reuse a broader set of materials and potentially provide the missing piece in the recycling equation. However, the economics of these technologies is not yet proven.
Chemical Recycling: Upcycling of End-of-Life Plastics
Carlos Monreal, February 2020
There is no time to lose in figuring out how to solve the plastic challenge and increase both the recycling rates and the recycled content in product. In parallel of this regulatory drive, many large brand owners have committed to reach 100% of recyclable packaging by 2030. Plastic Energy has developed a solution to address low-value mixed plastics that cannot be mechanically recycled. The Thermal Anaerobic Conversion (TAC) produces recycled oils (TACOIL) from end-of-life plastics. The TACOIL is then used as a new feedstock for the (petro)chemical industry to generate recycled plastics by replacing virgin oil with TACOIL. Our TAC process is a low-pressure thermal depolymerization process patented in Europe and the US. To be more specific, the shredded, densified and then molten feedstock is pumped into the oxygen free reactors at a controlled rate and temperature. The multicomponent hydrocarbon vapour produced in the reactor passes through our patented contactor vessel which finally controls the hydrocarbon chain length and quality before entering the condensation system. The TACOIL is then be subjected to various additional purification / polishing steps before being sent to the steam-crackers of the chemical industry. In addition of having two industrial plants running 24/7 more than 330 days per year for the past 3 years, Plastic Energy through its experience has managed to stabilise the output the specifications required by the chemical industry. This has led to the value-chain validation of the circularity of the Plastic2Plastic process by the ISCC+ to produce the Certified Circular Polymers. This chemical recycling process effectively upcycles the plastic through conversion to the original monomers in each process of recycling, making it safe and reusable as a food-grade product. After explaining the technical and industry experience of reach an optimal product and efficient operations, the presentation will stress some real-life Plastic2Plastic applications developed with the value-chain, and will continue on the upscaling and expansion of the capacities of Plastic Energy and the potential of the chemical recycling industry in improving recycling and creating a circular economy.
China’s Plastic Waste Import Ban: Global & Regional Implications
Jim Rounick, February 2020
China used to import large volumes of polymer waste from around the world. The sudden 2017 decision by the Chinese government to ban imports of recyclables created a supply chain gap for plastic waste processors in China. He-Ro will outline how this supply chain gap issue has been addressed by the PR China plastic waste processors & how the value chain has adapted. With additional plastic waste bans now in place in other Asian countries, will this ’new system’ created by the plastic waste processors be rolled out across Asia and the rest of the world? Will their learnings form a base for other countries to build their own supply chain infrastructure?
Developments in End-of-Life Technologies for Multilayer and Barrier Flexible Packaging
Terence Cooper, February 2020
Flexible packaging is more economical than other formats because of its lower material and energy consumption and manufacturing and transport costs. It also provides reduced waste of packaged products, particularly food, generates much less packaging waste than rigid formats and has favorable LCAs. Consequently, its use, particularly in multilayer barrier films and pouches, has been steadily growing and replacing rigid packaging. Despite this, it is still opposed by environmental groups due to difficulties in end-of-life collection, sorting and processing and concerns about “single-use” packaging and sustainability. Because of its film and multilayer construction, and often food-waste contamination, post-consumer flexible packaging is not readily mechanically recyclable and is presently generally landfilled, so that environmental groups have pressured food and other companies to stop using it. To combat this, and to eradicate landfilling, the food, packaging and recycling industries are supporting a wide range of initiatives including: a). improved mechanical recycling systems to handle film packaging and the development and introduction of supporting collection, identification and sorting technologies and infrastructure; b). new package designs and materials facilitating mechanical recyclability by reducing polymer types and number of layers, mono-material and all-polyethylene pouches, compatibilizer incorporation, and using barrier adhesives and coatings and recyclable and biodegradable barrier materials; c). economic film layer separation and recovery methods; d). chemical recycling processes to produce monomers or valuable feedstocks; e). waste-to-energy recovery systems such as anaerobic gasification and plasma pyrolysis; and f). pyrolytic waste-to-fuel and waste-to-chemicals recovery operations. These developments are surveyed to demonstrate the wide range and intensity of current activities.
Recycled Material Standard (RMS)
Laura Thompson, February 2020
The Recycled Material Standard (RMS) is in early development stages and is ultimately meant to serve as a voluntary, market-based tool to be implemented by value chain participants and audited independently by credible third-party certification bodies. The purpose of the standard is to address some of the challenges that brands, their suppliers, and the recycling industry are facing in trying to incorporate higher amounts of recycled content into packaging or finished products. The RMS is being developed by GreenBlue for common packaging materials including paper, plastic, glass and metal, but could be employed for the same materials in markets other than packaging (e.g. the use of recycled plastic in composite lumber). The RMS will use two independent tracking system options which will be defined in separate parts of the standard: 1. The chain of custody (CoC) system will specify material management requirements within an organization in order to demonstrate that recycled content materials and products purchased, labelled and sold as RMS certified originate from recovered materials (derived from post-consumer and post-industrial sources). The chain of custody system will allow for claims to be made using either an average percentage method or credit-based claims. 2. The attributes of recycled content (ARCs) will be a certificate-based trading scheme tracked through a registration body to provide an investment mechanism for new processing capacity. Organizations purchasing ARCs will help support the development of new, additional capacity for processing recycled materials. Purchasing ARCs will also allow companies to communicate the environmental benefits associated with these materials in place of virgin raw materials.
Agilyx's Role in Commercial Recovery of Chemical Value in Post-Use Plastics
Barry Cavinaw, February 2020
Global plastic recycling rates are stagnant at roughly 10%. At the same time, plastic production exceeds 300 million tons a year and is projected to continue growing. Polyolefins account for nearly half of the world's plastics. Agilyx was established with the primary goal of dramatically increasing the world's recycling of plastics and polymers. This single focus led to innovations in polymer depolymerization technology that Agilyx deploys on a commercial scale. As Agilyx treats post-use plastics as a hydrocarbon reserve and a valuable resource, new business models emerge that support the circular plastics industry. Its 15+ years of experience working with its technology has resulted in a profound understanding of post-use polymers as well as their supply chains and variability. The company advances circular solutions for polyolefins and polystyrene using its proprietary pyrolysis technology in conjunction with vertical feedstock management. Ongoing research and development programs bolster Agilyx’s leading position in the market through continuous innovation and improvement to overall process performance, financial profiles, and the development of new product slates. Agilyx creates chemical and circular recycling pathways for end-of-use plastics through innovations, know-how, and processes that are environmentally and economically sustainable.
Technology for Ultra-pure Recycled PP
John Layman, February 2020
Consumers increasingly expect and demand sustainable products without performance and price trade-offs, and companies, like P&G, have established long-term sustainability goals that include the use of large percentages recycled resins in their products and packaging. To satisfy consumers’ expectations and achieve companies’ goals, P&G has developed a novel purification technology that converts contaminated recycled resins into virgin-like resins. The proprietary technology is based on the use of a hydrocarbon solvent at elevated temperature and pressure, and a novel combination of standard chemical engineering unit operations, such as liquid – liquid extraction, sedimentation, size exclusion and adsorbent filtrations, and devolatilization. These processes purify the recycled resins via removal of odor, volatile organic chemicals, and other organic and particulate contaminants and additives. Initial focus of the technology is on polypropylene (PP); however, purifications of other polymers are currently under development. The PP purification technology was patented by P&G and licensed to Innventure, which launched PureCycle Technologies (PCT) in September 2015 to commercialize the technology. The 70-ton capacity pilot plant started operation in July 2019, and commercialization is slated to start in 2021/22 with a ~50 kta capacity plant.
Recycling and Sustainability: Plastic Industry Challenges and How to Face Them
Jungdu Kim, February 2020
In the last 50 years, plastic materials have become one of the most important material used in the most diverse range of end-use applications. They have their benefits as well as challenges. In the recent years, plastic has been under scrutiny for its impact on environment. To understand the plastic challenge, it is important to look at a larger picture. Many aspects must be taken into consideration when selecting material: technical properties, economical aspects and environmental impact. Understanding all criteria is key to select the most sustainable material. SONGWON will explain how it can enable the industry to overcome some of the recycling challenges. It will show the importance of sustainability and the concrete actions it is taking to continuously become more sustainable.


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