Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly – Revolutionary System Enables Tailoring of Polymers with Unprecedented Precision 25-07-2023
Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
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Revolutionary System Enables Tailoring of Polymers with Unprecedented Precision
Polymers have become an integral part of our daily lives, but the vast majority of potential polymers remain unexplored. In a groundbreaking collaboration, Professor Dr. Christopher Kuenneth from the University of Bayreuth, Germany, and Professor Dr. Rampi Ramprasad from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, USA, have developed a cutting-edge digital system named “polyBERT.” Leveraging insights from linguistics, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence, polyBERT has the ability to rapidly and accurately predict the properties of polymers, selecting the ideal candidates for specific applications from a pool of over 100 million theoretically possible polymers. This revolutionary system promises to bring about significant economic, technological, and ecological benefits.
PolyBERT: A Revolutionary Approach
PolyBERT treats the chemical structure of polymers as a language, assigning unique names to each theoretically possible polymer based on its molecular building blocks and structures. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Through a meticulous training process, polyBERT has learned the names of approximately 100 million potential polymers, enabling it to understand and generate new names for previously unknown materials. This capacity allows polyBERT to function as a powerful tool for navigating the vast landscape of potential polymers.
Generating Digital “Fingerprints”
A key strength of polyBERT lies in its ability to automatically translate polymer names into numerical representations known as “fingerprints.” These fingerprints serve as unique codes that capture the building blocks and structure of each polymer, facilitating rapid and precise correlation between polymer properties and their fingerprints. Compared to human-generated fingerprints, this automatic process significantly reduces errors and accelerates the analysis of polymer properties. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Rapid Prediction of Polymer Properties
The real-world applicability of polyBERT stems from its extensive training on characteristic polymer properties essential for various technological applications. By accurately correlating fingerprints with polymer properties, the system can swiftly identify the most suitable polymers for specific tasks from the vast pool of possibilities. This unparalleled predictive ability has the potential to revolutionize the design, synthesis, and application of polymers, streamlining their development and implementation.
Addressing Plastic Waste Pollution with Bioplastics
In a previous study published in the journal Communications Materials, Professor Kuenneth and his research partners demonstrated the efficacy of machine learning approaches in addressing global plastic waste pollution. They developed an artificial neural network-based system capable of predicting polymer properties, and in turn, identified 14 biodegradable polymers from 1.4 million candidates that could replace fossil-based plastics. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The ability to swiftly locate environmentally friendly biopolymers promises to accelerate the transition towards a more sustainable future.
The polyBERT system represents a remarkable advancement in the field of polymer research, with the potential to transform the way we tailor polymers for specific applications. By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and linguistic insights, researchers have unlocked the ability to rapidly predict polymer properties and identify environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional plastics. As polyBERT continues to be refined and expanded, it is poised to revolutionize various industries and contribute significantly to a more sustainable and technologically advanced future.
Avient Corp., a Cleveland-based plastics producer, launched its newest addition to the reSound REC line, with two innovative recycled-content c (TPEs) designed for automotive interior components
These new TPE grades have been meticulously formulated to incorporate postconsumer recycled (PCR) content, presenting a more sustainable alternative to traditional TPEs while maintaining comparable performance standards. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The driving force behind the development of these eco-friendly materials is the growing demand for improved sustainability in the transportation industry. Avient acknowledges that automotive manufacturers and suppliers are seeking ways to enhance their environmental footprint without compromising on performance.
By introducing the reSound REC 7310 product series, which meets common automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and fogging, Avient aims to empower OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to achieve their sustainability objectives. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Matt Mitchell, Avient’s Director of Global Marketing, emphasizes the significance of these recycled-content TPEs by highlighting their potential to reduce carbon emissions, waste, and pollution at the inception of the product life cycle, thereby contributing to overall environmental benefits. The initial grades in the series boast 80 and 90 Shore A durometers and are composed of 35 percent or 45 percent PCR content derived from recycled food packaging.
One of the key advantages of the reSound REC 7310 series is its adaptability and versatility. These TPE grades can be easily customized and injection molded or “overmolded” to polypropylene (PP), enabling their usage in various interior applications. Some potential applications within vehicles include door mats and mat pockets, center console trays, front and rear trunk liners, as well as components for instrument panels and dashboards. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Avient’s commitment to providing aesthetically appealing solutions is evident in the black coloration of the current component applications. This color choice ensures consistent and comparable aesthetics to prime grades for OEM-specific shades of black. However, the company also affirms that “additional colors are also possible,” allowing for further customization and adaptation to specific design requirements. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
As a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, Avient remains dedicated to combating plastic pollution and promoting a circular economy. The manufacturing and availability of the reSound REC 7310 product line in North America reflect the company’s commitment to producing these sustainable TPEs with regional accessibility in mind.
In conclusion, Avient Corp.’s introduction of the reSound REC 7310 series marks a significant step forward in the pursuit of sustainable solutions for the automotive industry. By incorporating postconsumer recycled content into these TPE grades, Avient addresses the industry’s demand for more environmentally friendly materials without compromising on performance. As automotive manufacturers and suppliers strive to meet their sustainability goals, the availability of these recycled-content TPEs provides them with a valuable tool to reduce their environmental impact and drive positive change within the sector. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
With the ability to customize and adapt these materials for various interior applications, Avient’s reSound REC 7310 series stands poised to revolutionize the automotive industry’s approach to eco-friendly manufacturing.
Race to Recycle Electric Vehicle Batteries Heats Up in North America
A little-known clause in the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act is driving companies to recycle electric vehicle (EV) batteries in North America, making the region a key player in challenging China’s dominance in the field. Under this clause, EV battery materials recycled within the U.S. automatically qualify as American-made, making automakers eligible for production incentives when using these materials. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
According to industry officials and experts interviewed by Reuters, this clause is sparking a boom in factory construction in the U.S., encouraging automakers to invest in research for recyclable batteries. As a result, it may become more challenging for buyers in developing countries to purchase used EVs Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Currently, China handles the majority of global EV battery recycling, which is projected to grow from $11 billion in 2022 to $18 billion by 2028. The minerals found in these batteries, such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel, have an average value of €1,000 to €2,000 per car, according to Thomas Becker, BMW’s sustainability chief
However, as automakers increase their production of EVs, there may be a shortage of these materials in the near future. Nevertheless, the materials can be recycled an unlimited number of times without losing their power, as stated by Louie Diaz, vice president of Canadian battery recycling firm Li-Cycle
The U.S. government has provided significant funding to support battery material recycling and remanufacturing. For instance, Redwood Materials was awarded a $2 billion loan to build a recycling and remanufacturing complex in Nevada, while Li-Cycle received a $375 million loan for a plant in New York. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The Inflation Reduction Act has prompted companies in the U.S. to prioritize recycling efforts more than their counterparts in the European Union (EU), which has focused on implementing mandates for minimum amounts of recycled materials in future EV batteries. Despite this, recycling firms Ascend Elements and Li-Cycle are planning to build plants in Europe in the coming years. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The goal is to create “closed-loop supply chains” where recycled minerals are used to produce new batteries locally. This aim is driven by a desire to reduce reliance on China, which currently leads the global race in EV battery recycling. However, China recently announced stricter standards and increased research support for recyclers, challenging the U.S.’s position. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Globally, there are over 80 companies involved in EV recycling, with more than 50 startups attracting over $2.7 billion in investment from automakers, battery manufacturers, and mining giants such as Glencore. The volume of EV batteries available for recycling is expected to grow significantly, reaching 138 GWh by 2030, equivalent to approximately 1.5 million EVs.
At present, there is limited recycling capacity in the U.S. and virtually none in Europe. EV batteries in Europe are currently shredded and sent to China for recycling, while in the U.S., facilities are being built to address this issue Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Efforts are underway to improve recycling processes to yield higher percentages of valuable battery materials, such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Additionally, the EU plans to mandate minimum levels of recycled materials in EV batteries within eight years and impose strict conditions on recycling outside of Europe.
Berry Global and The Bio-D Company Introduce Eco-Friendly PCR Bottles for Home Care Products
In an effort to promote sustainability and reduce plastic waste, Berry Global, a leading packaging manufacturer, has partnered with The Bio-D Company, a renowned UK ethical cleaning company, to create a range of reusable bottles made entirely from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic. This innovative range comprises three different sizes, including 750ml, 1 litre, and 5 litres, accommodating various Bio-D liquid products such as Laundry Liquid, Fabric Conditioner, Dishwasher Rinse Aid, Washing Up Liquid, and Home & Garden Cleaner. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Bio-D has long been committed to producing cleaning products that provide 100% naturally derived alternatives to harmful chemicals, ensuring safe and efficient cleaning practices that do not compromise human health or harm the environment. Through their thorough analysis, Bio-D concluded that employing 100% PCR bottles for several of their liquid products is the most suitable and environmentally responsible choice.
The primary focus during the development of these PCR bottles was to achieve a high level of performance, particularly in terms of durability and longevity. The design was optimized to facilitate reuse, allowing consumers to refill the bottles multiple times at over 300 refill stores spread across the UK. Additionally, at the end of their life cycle, the bottles can be efficiently recycled. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The shift to 100% PCR bottles has resulted in significant environmental benefits, saving up to 13 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually compared to using virgin plastic bottles.
Heather Nixon, the Sustainability Manager at Bio-D, expressed her satisfaction with the PCR bottles, stating, “Reusable bottles made completely from PCR offer a more sustainable solution than alternatives such as pouches. Berry has worked hard to ensure that the bottle is tough and long-lasting while also offering convenience and ease of use for the consumer to deliver a solution that is fit for purpose while fully complementing our brand values.” Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The bottles are manufactured using blow moulding techniques and consist of 100% PCR HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene). To maintain brand presence throughout the product’s life, each bottle features an embossed Bio-D logo. Moreover, the design of the 1 litre Laundry Liquid and Fabric Conditioner bottles is further enhanced with a handle for safe carrying and controlled pouring, ensuring a user-friendly experience.
Berry Global’s technical and design expertise played a critical role in successfully producing these PCR bottles. Although Berry has been incorporating recycled materials into their containers for years, the specific requirements set by Bio-D presented new challenges that necessitated the development of innovative material technology, processing techniques, and an extensive test regime. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Sally Halliwell, Sales Development Manager at Berry Global Blow Moulding Specialities, attested to the complexity of the project, stating, “The requirements for the Bio-D bottle set us additional challenges that required new material technology and processing requirements and an extensive new test regime.”
Throughout the development process, Berry BMS leveraged the processing experience of Berry’s specialist recycling business, Berry Circular Polymers. Additionally, the bottle’s closure was produced by Berry Norwich, offering Bio-D a complete single-source solution for their packaging needs. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The collaboration between Berry Global and The Bio-D Company sets an inspiring example of how companies can join forces to create sustainable packaging solutions that promote environmental responsibility while preserving product performance and consumer convenience. With the introduction of these PCR bottles for Bio-D’s home care product range, a positive step has been taken towards a greener and cleaner future for the cleaning industry.
Bespoke packaging can add value, boost sustainability
Bespoke packaging is often considered to be a more costly alternative to standard packaging. While it’s true that customers can buy high volumes of basic plastic packaging at a lower cost than customised glass packaging, when you work with a packaging partner with strong networks and decades of experience, the difference is less than you might think. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
With the global customised packaging market predicted to grow around 5.28% annually by 2023, this is actually greater than the predicted 3.94% growth for the packaging industry as a whole, highlighting the value of bespoke creations over standard packaging. At a time when all brands are fighting harder for brand recognition and both real shelves and virtual shops are crowded with offers and products, anything that can help a product-based business stand out is worth considering. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
A differentiator that is both affordable and sustainable has to be doubly worth considering, particularly when that increased brand value can be integrated into the cost of the packaging itself. Derek Grey, sales manager for Ireland for Pont Packaging BV, explains how he sees bespoke packaging as the missing part of the jigsaw, bringing his knowledge of developing customised packaging to every project that could benefit from it. With a network of 14 locations, Pont was founded in the Netherlands in 1906, specialising in bespoke and standard glass and plastic packaging for the food, beverage, personal care, VMS and pet care industries ever since. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Grey says, “I’ve worked in the packaging industry for my whole career, over 30 years, and yet I’ve only had two jobs. For the last eight years, I’ve been responsible for sales in Ireland for Pont Packaging BV, a family-owned glass and plastic packaging partner to customers across Europe. I think of packaging as being a jigsaw that needs the right expertise to put it together. There are so many elements to creating the right packaging for a specific application, from the R&D aspect to the relevant legislation to the materials used and the barrier properties, not to mention the customisation and the volumes needed and the logistics and delivery! It doesn’t make sense for many SMEs to have all this expertise in-house, certainly not full time; the expense just isn’t warranted. The packaging jigsaw means that Pont can come in to a customer and bring those missing pieces, ready to fit in exactly where they’re needed.” Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Common sense approach to adding value
Artisan, craft and luxury small to medium sized brands are especially able to gain value from bespoke packaging that is made through working closely with a packaging partner. The competition for these brands is tough, often without the marketing budget of the larger brands and almost certainly without the large product development teams.
Grey shares how his approach enables these businesses to take advantage of Pont’s ability to develop bespoke packaging solutions without the bespoke price tag. He says, “I start from a place of curiosity; it’s essentially a consultancy role that comes as part of working with Pont, so there’s no consultancy fee! I have a very common-sense attitude to adding value for our customers. By listening to their current needs and challenges, I can carefully direct them to the best way to deliver their packaging at the price, time and volumes they require.” Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
With a clear understanding that the packaging is just one element in the major task that is creating and producing a product to get it market ready, Grey notes that his role is one that compliments the considerable efforts of the customer and their team. He adds, “One of my favourite ways to add value for customers is to work together to create bespoke packaging that reflects their brand on the shelf, or online, and protects their product perfectly. I’m always impressed by how much work our customers put into developing their products, with artisan brands like the craft beer brands I work with across Ireland so passionate about what they’re making. My colleagues and I talk to customers about the price point of their product, where it’s sold, how it’s being transported…to understand the whole process right from the start.” Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Chemical recycling is a promising approach to tackle the plastic waste problem, but it requires a significant leap of faith from various stakeholders to fully realize its potential
Experts and stakeholders in the chemical recycling space emphasize that developing these processes takes time and substantial investments. At present, only a minuscule 0.1% of plastic waste in the EU is being chemically recycled. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
In the medium term, a more realistic proportion for chemical recycling’s share could be around 15% by 2030 in an optimistic scenario, according to the EU’s Joint Research Center. This would still make mechanical recycling three times more voluminous than chemical recycling, aligning with the belief that everything that can be mechanically recycled should be. Currently, Europe sends 23% of plastic waste to landfills, 42% is used for energy production, and approximately 35% is mechanically recycled.
The goal must be to recycle more plastics, minimize burning, and reduce the amount sent to landfills, with improvements expected in both chemical and mechanical recycling processes. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
To ramp up chemical recycling, significant investments are required. The chemical industry is planning to invest over seven billion euros in chemical recycling by 2030, but to ensure these investments materialize, a reliable legal framework is crucial. The chemical recycling process should be included in the regulatory framework and approved for the mechanical recycling quota, giving a sense of security to investors and customers. Introducing extended manufacturer responsibility, where manufacturers contribute to a recycling fund, could further support the financing of recycling processes. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The mass balance procedure plays a vital role in making chemical recycling viable. It allows the use of existing plants by substituting fossil raw materials with circular ones, such as pyrolysis oil, early in the value chain, and certifying the process and products through independent bodies. Despite some skepticism from politicians, the mass balance procedure is seen as a crucial step towards achieving a functioning circular economy without astronomical costs.
However, chemical recyclers face challenges in gaining recognition for mass balance. As chemical recycling processes are relatively new compared to well-established mechanical processes, politicians may perceive them with caution. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The trust in chemical recycling needs to be built, and stakeholders must take a leap of faith to support its development.
Another concern raised is the potential competition between chemical recyclers and mechanical recyclers for input materials. Some argue for sector-specific targets to ensure fair distribution of recycling responsibilities, but others believe that the abundance of plastic waste should provide enough raw materials for both approaches to coexist harmoniously. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
While the energy balance of chemical recycling is currently less favorable than mechanical recycling, it’s essential not to compare them directly as they serve different purposes. Mechanical recycling requires clean material flows and extensive sorting and cleaning efforts, while pyrolysis, a key chemical recycling process, is relatively energy-efficient. The waste that cannot be converted into oil is pyrolyzed into gas, which generates energy for the process. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Continued development and innovation in pyrolysis technology, such as using microwaves powered by green electricity, could further improve the energy balance and reduce emissions.
In conclusion, chemical recycling presents an exciting opportunity to address the plastic waste challenge, but it requires collective support, investments, and trust from stakeholders to reach its full potential. A combination of chemical and mechanical recycling can contribute to a more sustainable future, where plastic waste is minimized, resources are conserved, and the environmental impact is reduced. To make this vision a reality, a conducive legal framework, extended manufacturer responsibility, and continued research and development are crucial. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
ADNOC Gains Upper Hand in $30 Billion Plastics Merger & Acquisition
The potential merger of two petrochemical companies, Borouge and Borealis, has garnered significant attention due to its complex ownership structure involving the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Austrian firm OMV. The deal, estimated to be worth over $30 billion, has raised questions about who holds the dominant position in this cross-border transaction. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Currently, Borouge’s shareholder structure is intricate, with ADNOC holding 54% of the Abu Dhabi-listed company, while Borealis possesses a 36% stake. Other investors account for the remaining 10%. On the other hand, ADNOC owns a 25% stake in Borealis, while OMV, 32% owned by the Austrian state, holds the majority with a 75% stake. The outcome of these cross-shareholdings is that OMV has a direct majority stake in Borealis and an indirect 27% minority stake in Borouge. Conversely, ADNOC has a direct minority stake in Borealis and a significant 63% stake in Borouge. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The market values Borouge at approximately $22 billion. If Borouge’s dividend is excluded from the equation, Borealis’ value stands at $10 billion according to Deutsche Bank’s estimations. Consequently, ADNOC’s 63% Borouge stake and 25% Borealis stake are valued at $14 billion and $2.5 billion, respectively, while OMV’s 27% Borouge stake and 75% Borealis holding are valued at $6 billion and $7.5 billion.
These calculations imply that ADNOC would have a 55% stake in the merged entity, leaving OMV with 45%. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
From a strategic standpoint, the merger makes sense. Analysts from Goldman Sachs estimate that the combined entity will produce 8.8 million tonnes of polyolefin annually, a vital material for manufacturing plastics used in various applications, such as power transmission cables in wind farms and protective coverings for medical devices like inhalers. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Borealis, responsible for producing the chemical particles utilized by Borouge in plastic manufacturing, would make the combined entity one of the world’s top producers of polyolefin, competing with giants like China’s Sinopec and Saudi Arabia’s SABIC.
Moreover, Borouge’s strong presence in fast-growing Asian markets like India offers lucrative prospects, particularly in the booming sectors of electrification and healthcare.
The true challenge lies in determining the controlling party of the merged group. OMV would need to invest over $3 billion to increase its stake to above 50%, a move that ADNOC may not favor. The matter of where the newly merged company would be listed also presents a dilemma, as dual listings in both countries come with added costs and the need to comply with two regulatory regimes. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
Furthermore, Abu Dhabi aims to expand its gas exports to Europe, implying a desire to maintain a positive relationship with Vienna, Austria’s capital. However, OMV’s leverage in the negotiations is limited since ADNOC also holds a 25% stake in the company. Most crucially, Borouge benefits from exceptionally high EBITDA margins of 33%, double those of competitors like SABIC, primarily due to its access to cheap gas and oil from ADNOC, which serves as feedstock for its polyolefin production. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
This advantage could potentially tip the balance in favor of ADNOC in any trans-continental chemical standoff. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
In light of recent developments, OMV announced its intent to enter negotiations with ADNOC for the combination of Borouge and Borealis, aiming to establish a jointly controlled, listed platform for potential growth and acquisitions, with the goal of creating a global polyolefin company. ADNOC clarified that it is engaging in these negotiations as the majority shareholder of Borouge, while OMV acts as the majority shareholder in Borealis. However, the final decision remains subject to the governance processes of Borouge and other relevant parties. Plastic recycling Eco-Friendly
The merger between ADNOC and OMV’s petrochemical entities could reshape the landscape of the plastics industry, creating a formidable global player. As negotiations proceed, the influence of each party will become clearer, and the fate of the merged entity will be determined by the delicate interplay of interests between the two countries and the companies involved.
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