Plastics News - Show Daily - October 19, 2022 - 34

34 * Plastics News, October 19, 2022
SHOW DAILY
Digitized recycling info seen as key step
in different formats,
including
bar codes, QR
codes and digital
watermarks,
although
watermarks
have
Brenken
may
more
functionality
during
sorting.
By the end of
the year, R-Cycle's
work will
R-Cycle, a plastics industry
technical coalition, sees the
growing need for its efforts to
digitize recycling information.
Plastics News photo by Caroline Seidel
By Steve Toloken
Plastics News Staff
Could bar codes or other digital
passports with recycling information
printed or embedded
in plastics packaging improve its
environmental performance
making it easier to identify and
sort waste for recycling?
The R-Cycle project, an industry
technical coalition, thinks it
could - and it wants to give the
broader plastics sector its first
look at its work at K 2022.
R-Cycle, which has 26 member
companies, worked with the nonprofit
standard setting body GS1
- which oversees the globally
ubiquitous point-of-sale bar code
on products - to develop a digital
traceability standard for plastic
packaging.
They're showing their efforts at
a joint booth (OA 16, CE07) in the
Circular Economy Forum outside
of Hall 16.
At an Oct. 18 press conference
Liebig
Continued from Page 6
for our service and spare parts
business is at a very high level.
Typically, we experience this service
and spares business peak at
the beginning and towards the
end of a crisis.
Q: The circular economy remains
a unifying theme for K
2022 and Sumitomo will participate
in a special forum about
it. What is the company's role in
the form and what is its message
to K show attendees?
Liebig: Our ambition is to reduce
the use of material by improving
the process and enabling our
customers to produce ever-thinner-walled
parts with our solutions.
Various approaches to material or
process technologies are conceivable
here. One example is foaming,
which reduces the amount of maa
day before the show opened,
R-Cycle Director Benedikt Brenken
said the coalition is unveiling
details of the effort to the bigger
K show audience.
by
The work is in its early stages,
but he said there's a lot of interest
in such technology from big consumer
product brands, governments
and the waste management
sector.
" We see a big push from brands
and from retailers to get this information, "
Brenken said, adding
that governments also have a
" clear understanding " of the need
for such technology, which R-Cycle
refers to as a digital passport.
The idea is simple: put information
in a digital watermark or
other code on packaging, containing
details like the type of plastic,
does it have recycled or biobased
content, is it approved for
food packaging use and how was
the packaging used.
Then, waste sorting facilities
would have to put cameras or senterial
required - exhibited at K
2022 at the circular economy stand
at VDMA. Recyclate processing is
not an insurmountable technological
challenge. We process many
materials - recyclates have now
broadened the material range. The
challenge is to control nonuniform
material properties through intelligent
process monitoring.
Q: What is the significance of
the K theme digitalization to Sumitomo?
Liebig:
Digitalization is very
important to us. At K 2022, we
will extend our digital tools,
launching our newest smart solution:
myAssist. Increasing process
transparency, the new tool
will be displayed on three individual
exhibits. This gives injection
molders the facility to gain
even deeper insights into process
parameters. With myAssist,
we are marking the next stage in
our journey from process analsors
in their facility to detect and
direct material, based on the codes.
Because those waste facilities
would be required to make their
own investments to use the digital
passports, they see both opportunities
and potential, he said.
" On the one hand they see the
potential to provide better sorting,
to provide a better product, "
Brenken said. " On the other hand,
they have to think about their
business case. This is where the
entire value chain has to work together. "
Brenken
said the R-Cycle coalition
sees such data as essential
to boost plastics recycling: " The
circular economy is quite complex
but without data, you cannot
have a circular economy. "
Open platform
The technology is designed
to be an open platform that will
work with any production machinery.
The markings can come
be published as a standard by GS1
and be available free to those interested
in adopting it or studying
it, Brenken said in an interview after
the press conference.
R-Cycle member companies include
processing equipment makers
Reifenhauser Extrusion Systems
GmbH, Engel Austria GmbH,
Br├╝ckner Maschinenbau, recycling
machinery supplier Erema
Group, and materials firms Dow
Inc. and ExxonMobil Chemical.
The initial planning on R-Cycle
began in 2019, and Brenken said
its members took note when the
European Commission's Circular
Economy Action Plan in early
2020 highlighted the importance
of digitizing information on products
to help recycling and sustainability.
" We
read this Circular Economy
Action plans and there was the
first time the European Commission
said digital product passport
and digitalization of value chains, "
Brenken said. " We said, you know,
with our idea, we're really hitting
a target. "
The digital watermarks can
work hand-in-hand with new policies
and investments designed to
boost sustainability, he said.
" We're in a phase of chickenand-egg, "
Brenken said. " On the
one hand, you need the investment
in better recycling technology.
But on the other hand, for
waste management, they're competing
against new material. "
" Even if we do better sorting,
a virgin material will always be
better - the problem is when it's
also cheaper, " he said. " Therefore,
that's why we need more framework
conditions and policy signs.
... You need to level the market. "
Pressure to share more
Over time, Brenken predicted
Climate neutrality plays
a key role within the
Sumitomo Group. The most
important way to achieve this is
through our unwavering focus
on all-electric machinery, which
leads to significant savings in
CO2 emissions. "
Gerd Liebig
Sumitomo (SHI) Demag
ysis to digital validation and
digital product pass. This is an
evolving system with further developments
already in the works.
Q: How about climate change?
What is the role of machine
builders?
Liebig: Climate neutrality plays
a key role within the Sumitomo
Group. The most important way
to achieve this is through our
unwavering focus on all-electric
machinery, which leads to significant
savings in CO2 emissions. Six
years ago we converted one of our
two sites in Germany to the production
of all-electric machines.
This was initially a difficult step as
it meant losing at the time an order
volume of around 20 percent. Howdigital
passport technology will
have to balance how much to
share, as governments and the
public may push for more disclosure
and companies seek to guard
business information.
" There are coming changes
from the legislative level, there
are coming changes from let's say
social pressure, that there will be
more and more information requested
to be shared, " he said.
Brenken compared the efforts
underway now more to first steps
in the information digitalization
process. R-Cycle lets companies
decide how much information
they want to disclose in the passports,
to build support for the effort
in industry, he said.
" We said everybody who is
sharing data into R-Cycle decides
who should be able to read this
information, " he said. " This is
very important. This is one of the
steps to bring partners on board. "
During the press conference,
Brenken said R-Cycle wants to provide
information for the recycling
system without giving away a company's
competitive product data.
" We don't want to get too deep
because business secrets should
be kept secret, " he said.
Brenken also highlighted pilot
projects R-Cycle has done,
including:
An effort by extrusion blow
molding machinery maker Kautex
Maschinenbau GmbH and others
looking at applications in 250-ml
beverage bottles, one liter cans
for solid detergents, 3-liter gripper
bottles for household chemicals
and 20-liter industrial containers.
Similarly, Greiner Packaging is
spearheading a pilot studying the
challenges faced getting recycled
plastic that is high-quality enough
to be used in food containers, and
exploring how R-Cycle's platform
could help.
R-Cycle companies are looking
beyond packaging. Another pilot
project put the digital codes on
plastic agricultural film applied to
farming fields in China.
As well, Reifenhauser and
packaging machinery equipment
supplier Comexi manufactured
monolayer polyethylene pouches,
replacing more problematic
multilayer and multimaterial
pouches, and labeling them with
digitized recycling information.
ever, our decision turned out to
be far-sighted: Given this shift towards
sustainability, we now have
a huge competitive advantage.
Q: Do you think the more casual
atmosphere at Fakuma 2021
marked the end of executives
wearing ties at trade shows?
Liebig: I did not pack any tie. It
is the relic of past business times,
with complex dress codes that
we took great pain to teach our
sons no longer existing; the tie is
dead. [COVID] meant for one and
half years, formal attire remained
tucked away in our closets.
Although resurrections were
planned for the occasion of Fakuma,
with 90 percent of visitors and
exhibitors conducting business
meetings from home, this never
happened. Symbolically, the tie
has endured for 400 years. It's now
an artifact representing former
business times - forever forgotten
in the darkness of the drawer.

Plastics News - Show Daily - October 19, 2022

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