Plastics News - May 20, 2019 - 4

4 * Plastics News, May 20, 2019

RECYCLING

COMPOUNDERS KEY
TO INCREASE USE OF
RECYCLED MATERIAL
By Bill Bregar
Plastics News Staff
Cleveland - Compounders will
play a key role in recycled plastics
in the more circular economy of
the future because they can target
materials for specific end-use applications, according to exhibitors at a
trio of trade shows in Cleveland.
The show, held May 8-9, brought
together compounders, recyclers
and companies through the event
that served as the Compounding
World Expo, Plastics Recycling
World Expo and Plastics Extrusion
Expo. Applied Market Information
LLC organized the trade show.
Wojtek Zarzycki, CEO of Frontier
Plastics in Laredo, Texas, said the
recycler works with compounders
to supply finished material.
"They can kind of reverse engineer what the end user's need is,
and they compound to meet that
need," he said.
Janos Kozma, vice president of
Modern Dispersions Inc., a compounder and color masterbatch
maker in Leominster, Mass., said
his company has been using recycled plastics for some compounds
for more than 30 years.
"I agree that it's a good outlet for
recycled materials to go into compounds and tailor it to certain applications where suitable," Kozma
said.
Modern Dispersions' booth at
the AMI show featured end markets
served by the company's materials,
including wire and cable, pipe, agricultural film, food packaging, electronics, automotive, printing and
toll compounding.
Some markets are demanding
recycled content, but the recycled
material often has to meet the specifications of virgin resin for specific
applications, he said.
"It's a driver from the customer

'Recyclers are
actually material
suppliers, when you
really think about
it. But they don't
behave like material
suppliers.'
Martin Baumann
Erema North America Inc.

Martin Baumann, vice president of sales at recycling equipment company Erema North America Inc., said
the plastics recycling industry needs active participation by compounders. Plastics News photos by Bill Bregar
base, especially in automotive, to
utilize as much recycled content,"
Kozma said. "And when properties
are met, recycled materials are in
demand."

National Sword's impact
China's National Sword crackdown in 2018 banning imported
scrap plastic has roiled the U.S. recycling industry - putting urgency
to sell more material in the United
States. That has led to investments
in technology and more efforts to
link with compounders, exhibitors
and industry officials said.
"You've had more supply in the
domestic market. It's pushed prices
down in the market," said Zarzycki
of Frontier Plastics. He said Frontier
and other recyclers are investing in
technological innovation. "It's pushing the need to do something with
it. It makes more sense now that
there's more material."
Martin Baumann, vice president
of sales at recycling equipment
company Erema North America Inc.
of Ipswich, Mass., said the China
ban is now starting to drive investments.

"There was a bit of an expectation
in the beginning of the China ban
that immediately, big investment
plans would spring up. But the reality is, in the about a year [since it
was imposed], we're seeing actually
truly new plants now, where some
of the investment that we've seen
for the past year was just sort of
expansion of existing capacities, to
some degree," he said. "Now we're
seeing new installations. We see a
tremendous interest in PET recycling. We're not collecting enough,
and we need to solve that problem
eventually too."
In addition to investments by existing recycling players, Baumann
said new players are getting into
the sector.
"There's a tremendous movement right now. We get so many
requests we almost can't keep up,"
he said.
Baumann agrees that the plastics recycling industry needs active
participation by compounders. Historically in the United States and
Canada, he said, much of the recycled plastic went into fairly simple
products like plastic lumber or was
shipped in bales to China.

John Kozma, left, and Janos Kozma of Modern Dispersions Inc., a compounder and color masterbatch maker
in Leominster, Mass.

"What we're seeing now is actually new plants springing up actually
that go from wash line to pelletizing
for film. And that's new. But they're
just starting up now, or being requested now," Baumann said.
He thinks recyclers also need to
evolve, with the help of compounders.
"Recyclers are actually material
suppliers, when you really think
about it. But they don't behave like
material suppliers," Baumann said.
"A lot of the relationship on the recycler side is one-on-one. They're
more like a toll processor. 'I get
some material in, I process it for
you.' I sell it to my relationship. But
when you think about an Exxon Mobil or a Chevron, they have a catalog, a spec, and everybody can look
at that spec. They can distribute
their material much more broadly.
We as recyclers have to become
closer to that, where we can make
to spec. I see a tremendous value if
more people would be going down
that road."
When part designers can pull up
CAD drawings and Moldflow documents and see detailed properties
of specific recycled material, that
would greatly spread its use, he
said.
"So we need to 'level up,' and I really believe that compounding can
play a key role because one of the
beauties of compounding is they
make spec to recipes based on the
materials," Baumann said.
At the Processing Technologies
International LLC booth, Sushant
Jain said the new integrated extrusion systems from sheet line maker
PTI and compounding machinery
maker Farrel Pomini, which continuously compound material directly
into sheet, can compound recycled
material. Both companies are targeting packaging, automotive and
industrial sheet.
PTI and Farrel Pomini both exhibited at the Cleveland trade show.
Recycling is becoming more urgent as public outrage grows over
plastics in the oceans, said John
Standish, director of the Association of Plastic Recyclers, in a presentation at the trade show.

"You just have to look at the news
- sometimes every day it seems,
certainly every week. And we see
negative publicity dealing with plastics. Plastics in the ocean is the biggest one. More recently we have microplastics," Standish said. "And in
the past, the pace of change impacting plastics recycling has gone at a
graceful and deliberate speed. As a
result of all this negative publicity,
the pace of change in our industry's
picking up remarkably."
Standish discussed the APR Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability,
which he said is an important document for boosting true recyclability
of packaging, up front, during product design.

Sorting problems
Standish described the sorting
technology at modern materials recovery facilities (MRFs). A near infrared optical sorter can detect the
type and material of a bottle and automatically sort them from a stream
of mixed plastic. But problems can
happen such as black bottles that
have no reflective signal, which can
be sent to the MRF trash pile. Consumer product makers can use a
brighter shade of plastic or design
in a special black colorant that can
be detected, he said.
Another problem: packaging
such as spaghetti sauce, in plastic
packaging, but with a metal lid. He
said that lid may register the entire
package as metal and go into that
pile, wasting the value of the plastic
packaging. APR advocates educating consumers to remove the metal
lid on plastic packages but leave on
lids that are plastic.
As MRFs move to super-high
throughputs, Standish said technology is advancing quickly. The MaxAI sorting robot uses sophisticated
vision systems to pick and sort
much faster human workers. The
robot gives continuous feedback to
plant personnel.
Standish said the Max-AI has
spread rapidly since the first one
was sold last year.
"This is remarkable change in our
industry," he said.



Plastics News - May 20, 2019

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