Plastics News - Show Daily - October 20, 2023 - 21

FAKUMA SHOW DAILY
Plastics News, October 20, 2023 * 21
Materials suppliers face
new challenges related
to sustainability
ELIX POLYMERS SL
Hall B5, Booth 5003
By Sarah Kominek
Plastics News Staff
As pressure increases for automakers
and other OEMs to reduce
their carbon footprint, materials
suppliers are looking for recycled
feedstock sources and weighing
the benefi ts of recycled and biobased
materials.
ABS resins supplier Elix Polymers
SL isn't fi nding it easy to fi nd
a good source of materials, both
good quality and enough volumes,
Fabian Herter, marketing manager,
told Plastics News at Fakuma 2023
in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
With more regulations for automotive
OEMs to reduce the
CO2 footprint of their products,
investments in chemical recycling
in the U.S. and Europe are
increasing, Herter said. But it's a
challenge for the industry to get
regulators and the public to accept
it as a technology.
" With new technologies, capacity
and costs can go down with
more volumes available, " he said.
Customers' uptake of mechanically
recycled materials has also been
" slower than expected, " Herter said.
" For automotive, for example,
[it's] nearly impossible that they
accept the higher prices. But for
other applications, it's easier to
go ahead. ... We have that demand, "
he said.
" But we have to be ready and
approve suppliers to assure volumes
... by the mechanical recyclers
... we're close with our suppliers, "
he added.
Elix also has " detailed discusKraiburg
Continued
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migrate into the drinking water
system, " Arheidt said.
" We expect the fi nal KTW-BWGL
certifi cation to be provided
before the end of this year, " he
said in a news release. " This will
minimize our customers' approval
effort and accelerate the launch
of next-generation applications. "
The materials will be launched
to the company's global market in
2024 and will replace Kraiburg's
previous drinking water products.
The compounds also provide
better compression at high temperatures
and can be processed
more easily due to improved fl ow
and de-molding properties. They
also feature secure adhesion to
polypropylene or polyethylene in
multicomponent compounds.
The company's new bio-based
TPEs are being tested for use in
automotive and industrial components,
Tobias Bruckner, advanced
development project manager at
Kraiburg, told PN at Fakuma 2023.
Made from byproducts of vegetable
oil production or from
plants " not suitable for food production, "
Bruckner said, the TPE
grades, with up to 60 percent
bio-based content, can be resions "
with its customers to educate
them on the decreased carbon
emissions from mechanically
recycled materials.
ABS generally hasn't been an
easy market this year, Herter said.
" The forecast is not so positive.
Everybody is really in a negative
mood. Demand is not ramping up.
In the U.S., it was already low demand.
And then the high imports
from Asia coming, and then the
ongoing [UAW] strike, " he said.
Earlier this year, Ford, GM,
Stellantis, BMW, Renault Nissan
Mitsubishi, Daimler and Tesla approved
several Elix products.
The company developed a
range of specialty grades of ABS
and polycarbonate/ABS to be used
in interior parts like door handles,
armrests, seating parts, sunroofs,
cup holders and air vents. The materials
reduce squeaking and rattling
sounds generated by plastic
parts making contact with other
plastic parts, leather, PVC-foil or
other products.
Importance of
LCA data
For the last year, Elix has been
using electricity solely from
sources other than fossil fuels at
its facility in Tarragona, Spain.
It also began including sustainability
criteria in its supply chain
analysis by increasing the visibility,
traceability and mitigation of the environmental,
social and governance
risks of its suppliers as part of the
company's management system.
Material suppliers and their
processed " several times " without
losing " mechanical strength
properties compared to fossil-based
[TPE]. "
The materials have been tested
in injection molding and extrusion
and " the processing is
similar, so customers don't have
to change any molds, " he said.
" Maybe they have to adjust the
parameters during the injection
molding process. "
The bio-based TPEs " have a
lower product carbon footprint
than
established
alternatives
that are not based on renewable
raw materials, " the company
said in a news release. They
" can reduce a product's carbon
footprint by up to 50 percent as
compared to TPEs made of fossil-based
materials. "
The raw materials for the TPE is
readily available, Bruckner said:
" The byproducts are enough for
the whole plastics industry. "
But prices are still high for the
raw bio-based content as the byproduct
suppliers recognize the
demand for it, he added.
" We were able to create ... materials
with different specifi cs
and requirements from the TPE
market, " Bruckner said. " It's a big
advantage [to] create adhesion to
hard plastics like polyamides or
ABS and polycarbonates. "
POLYKEMI AB
Hall B1, Booth 1309
customers need accurate and
transparent data from every part
of the supply chain to address
products' carbon contributions,
Henrik Palokangas, application
development and sustainability
specialist at Polykemi AB, told PN.
But suppliers have only just begun
collecting data for life cycle
assessments, Palokangas said:
" When we started this four years
ago, there wasn't really any information
available. "
Because of that, " LCAs aren't
yet an exact science, " he said.
There are " so many ways to interpret "
the data. LCAs are also
based on assumptions, Palokangas
said: " We need to have the
same assumptions, otherwise we
cannot compare [data]. "
As scientists, he said, sustainability
experts should look for answers
to questions that haven't been
asked yet. If an LCA doesn't comprehensively
address all emissions
from oil extraction to production
of goods, including unintentional
methane emissions, " then probably
there are some other discrepancies
along the way, " he said.
Polykemi doesn't " try to make
[its] fi gures better than they are, "
he added.
The " decision-makers " for companies
looking to improve the sustainability
of their products " are
not scientists, " Palokangas said.
" They need to know the facts.
" We do a workshop together
with OEMs to go through the data
in more detail, just to bring everybody
to the same level, " he said.
" Then we start to focus on what
are the action requirements on
the components and what material
should we choose. "
Sweden-based Polykemi's LCAs
have shown bio-based materials
can have higher carbon footprints
than recycled materials.
Assuming bio-based materials
are better for all applications, " we
risk creating a new problem with
the solution, " Palokangas said.
Bio-based materials may not
harmonize with efforts to reduce
carbon emissions, but they do address
the impact of environmental
plastic pollution, he said.
" There are places for everything, "
Palokangas said. " Single-use
plastics [may] make sense
for biocircular materials.
" We're starting to get the information
we need to [see] different
values for the same polymer, depending
on where it comes from, "
Palokangas said. " We're starting
to select suppliers with a lower
[emissions] footprint. That benefi
ts us in the long run. "
Suppliers with lower emissions
are " not cheaper, " he added,
" which means our compounds
will be more expensive. But there
is a value in this.
" Now we're in kind of a recession,
so the price will be really important.
But as a family business,
we don't work quarterly; we work
in three- to fi ve-year plans. So we
take a little lower margin, " he added.
" We know in the long run that
we will benefi t from it. "
Henrik
Palokangas from
Polykemi at
Fakuma 2023.
Plastics News photo
by Caroline Seidel
Tobias Br├╝ckner
from Kraiburg at
Fakuma 2023.
Plastics News photo
by Caroline Seidel

Plastics News - Show Daily - October 20, 2023

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